A union representing some Red Funnel workers has warned that a potential pay strike could cause “serious disruption” to and from the Isle of Wight.
Unite, which makes up around 20% of the ferry company‘s workforce, says some workers are having to turn to food banks because of low wages, coupled with rising costs of living.
Red Funnel said it was “disappointed” that its latest offer – a 6.3 per cent pay rise – was rejected. It is to be hoped that a strike can be avoided.
About 120 customer service staff, shunters and evaluators, who work on the Red Jet and the Red Funnel car ferry, will be voted for strike action between June 14 and July 5.
Unite says the proposed 6.3% increase was for the lowest paid staff. All other roles were offered 4.5 percent.
He is asking for an increase that reflects “the real and rapidly rising cost of living”, which Unite says is 11.1%.
Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham said:
“Red Funnel’s treatment of this workforce is a disgrace. These workers have put themselves and their families at risk during the pandemic to keep ferry services running so food and essentials can reach the Isle of Wight. This is no way to repay them.
“Red Funnel must respect this workforce and pay fairly or face a strike.
“Unite is determined to give them a wage that allows them to live decently and, if our members go on strike, their union will be with them every step of the way.
The majority of employees at Red Funnel, which operates the lucrative routes, are on the national minimum wage, the union claims.
Unite says workers are finding it increasingly difficult to pay higher rents. Some are turning to food banks and “making the most of” food allowances at work to lower their bills.
Unite Regional Officer Ian Woodland said:
“A strike will cause severe disruption to travel to and from the island. But the fault for this disruption will lie with Red Funnel, which must recognize that many of its employees are rapidly sliding into poverty.
“We urge the company to offer a pay deal that reflects the skyrocketing cost of living so that strikes and the disruption they will cause can be avoided.”
Red Funnel says it attempted to enter into negotiations in October 2021, but Unite the Union did not submit its initial request until December 2021.
The results of the vote are expected in the coming weeks.