Socialist Worker

Woolwich ferry walkout takes on bosses

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2539

GMB and Unite union members on the picket line in Woolwich

GMB and Unite union members on the picket line in Woolwich (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Ferry workers in Woolwich, south east London, struck for 24 hours in the first of twelve planned walkouts last Friday.

The GMB and Unite union members are fighting alleged management bullying and sexual harassment.

They work for Briggs Marine Contractors, which operates the Thames river ferry crossing for Transport for London.

Unite union member Jake told Socialist Worker workers were angry about a “culture of mistrust and lying” by bosses.

“Management have refused to honour agreements and are constantly breaking promises,” he said. “We’ve just lost all confidence in them.”

Ben, another worker, added, “It’s just built up over the years—people are fed up with how we’re being treated.”

The dispute centres on an allegation of sexual harassment.

Onay Kasab, the Unite regional organiser told Socialist Worker, “One of our female members raised an allegation of sexual harassment. I’m proud that our members have come out.”

Workers said cost-cutting was leading to serious health and safety risks.

Steve, a GMB union member, told Socialist Worker, “There could be a major accident, because basic maintenance isn’t being done on the ships.They’ve reduced the labour in the workshops by around half.”

He added, “Management are hanging on for the new ferries worth £50 million, but they’re only coming in two years.”

Workers are determined to resist. As Bob said, “GMB members voted 100 percent and Unite members

90 percent to strike. That’s a clear mandate for taking industrial action from us.”

Every trade unionist should build solidarity with their fight as they plan their next walkout this Friday.

Workers’ names have been changed. Send messages of support to clive.smith@gmb.org.uk

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.