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19 April 2017

Workers sailing to victory on Woolwich ferry

A Unite member

Unite and GMB trade union members employed by Briggs Marine on the Woolwich Ferry have scored another win in their battle to improve conditions and fight bullying and harassment.

Workers have taken two days of strike action so far to protest against appalling health and safety failures, sexual harassment and union victimisation.

The strike action had already secured the suspension of one manager, several investigations and also the installation of a temporary management structure to oversee the local management team after workers made clear that they no longer had trust and confidence in local managers.

Further strike action was planned on 18 April 2017 but prior to the action commencing, the employer announced that the senior manager on site is 'moving on' and that there will be a new wider management team with staff able to put themselves forward.

The union will be demanding that these positions should be filled via an election of the workforce. While this is not strictly workers' control, it is certainly an example of what can be achieved right now!

The next planned action has therefore been suspended but only on the basis that discussion continues on a list of other grievances. As we go to press, the action for 21 April is still on.

These workers are a shining example. A large majority male workforce has been willing to stand shoulder to shoulder with a woman union member who faced the most disgusting sexual harassment, while at the same time building a campaign that poses the question of who controls the workplace.

The fact that the action has led to the removal of the most senior manager means that a victory has already been won - now the campaign will build on this to maximise that victory.

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