THE GIANT union Unite last week hailed a victory in the Woolwich Ferry dispute as a tribute to “worker solidarity”.
The long-running dispute over a management “bullying culture” dispute has been settled, following a remarkable display of worker solidarity, the union said last Tuesday
A deal hammered out between Unite and Briggs Marine Contractors Ltd has seen one manager being dismissed following a disciplinary hearing, a senior manager leaving the site, and a “fair” settlement for the female employee who suffered sexual harassment.
The company, which runs the service on behalf of Transport for London (TfL), has also agreed to a new improved health and safety regime, putting safety first, as well as settling outstanding issues relating to pay and allowances.
Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “We are pleased to announce today (Tuesday 4th July) a comprehensive agreement to settle the dispute at the ferry which is a tribute to a remarkable display of worker solidarity.
“By taking collective action and standing firm since this dispute started last winter, Unite has demonstrated that unions can achieve great victories in the workplace on behalf of their members and that bosses don’t have carte blanche to engage in unacceptable behaviour.
“The union was able to resolve the sexual harassment complaint to the member's satisfaction which sends out a strong message about the abhorrent nature of this offence.”
Unite regional legal and disputes officer Nicky Marcus said: “This dispute is testament to the fact that where the legal system fails to protect our members, exercising the right to take lawful industrial action can prove to be a powerful and highly effective means of seeking redress for all sorts of injustice.”
Workers, belonging to Unite and the GMB took two days of strike action: 27th January and 3rd February, before suspending industrial action so that talks could take place.
About 3,500 vehicles per day use the free service across the Thames that opened in 1889, following the abolition of tolls across bridges to the west of London. An estimated two million passengers also use the ferry annually.