Woolwich ferry strikers – taking action necessary to win!

Woolwich ferry photo BL2002/CC, photo BL2002/CC

Woolwich ferry photo BL2002/CC, photo BL2002/CC   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Unite the Union members working on the Woolwich Ferry have been taking discontinuous strike action since 14 May. The union has now issued notice for further strike action – which will consist of strikes every Monday, Wednesday and Friday throughout September.

This determined campaign is in response to the employer victimising union representatives, refusing to negotiate on pay, and cynically using agency staff to undermine terms and conditions. Transport for London (TfL) took the service in-house on 1 January, following a determined campaign from Unite demanding in-sourcing. Unfortunately, TfL used this as an opportunity to attack union organisation by disciplining Unite representatives.

It is to the immense credit of these workers that they have made the connection between attacks on the union and attacks on pay and conditions. Under huge pressure, TfL has been forced to negotiate, but unfortunately decided to engage in game playing, despite the union suspending the strike action for talks. But the tactics used by the strikers meant that management gained no advantage whatsoever – the action had only been suspended so the members were able to walk straight back out on strike the day after.

The action on the ferry is another example of workers no longer simply giving notice for one day of strike action. Instead, action is increasingly for longer periods. This is an indication of how workers, including the Woolwich Ferry strikers, are prepared to take the action that is necessary to win.

Unite Union member