Hauliers using the Woolwich Ferry face travel disruption during the peak season as ferry workers prepare to strike, union Unite is warning.

Unite said strike dates will be announced shortly after the 58 ferry workers voted for strike action this week, delivering a 90% majority.

The union is warning that the strike will cause travel chaos over the Christmas and New Year periods.

This is the latest development in a long running dispute with Transport for London (TfL), which has seen the service dogged with strike action this year. TfL took back control of the ferry service from Briggs Marine Contractors in January this year.

The dispute centres around a number of issues including what the union claims is the victimisation of two Unite reps, a failure to agree a new pay and reward scheme, excessive use of agency staff and the failure to provide adequate health and safety training to new employees.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham, who has visited the ferry workers’ picket line, said: “We expected better of Transport for London when it took over the running of the ferry, but the years of mismanagement, involving other operators, have been continued with TfL.

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“However, there is still an opportunity for them to retrieve the situation by entering into a constructive dialogue with Unite - though time is running out.

“Unite has pledged to defend our members’ jobs pay and conditions and that applies to our members at Woolwich Ferry who under TfL have had to fight victimisation of their union reps, deal with a total failure to produce a new pay award and oppose the increasing use of agency staff.

“It is no wonder yet again the vote for strike action against these attacks was overwhelming.”

Unite regional officer Onay Kasab: “Our members have shown magnificent solidarity during 2021 with more than 30 days of strike action. Again, they have returned a massive mandate for strike action which will cause travel chaos over the festive period.

“TfL bosses need to come to the table and negotiate a new chapter in employment relations for the benefit of the staff and also the travelling public.”

Before the Covid-19 pandemic around 20,000 vehicles a week used the free service across the Thames which opened in 1889, following the abolition of tolls across bridges to the west of London. Pre-Covid-19, an estimated 2.6 million passengers also used the ferry annually.

A TfL spokesperson said: “We are in ongoing discussions with Unite and hope to find a resolution as soon as possible. Our priority is that customers continue to receive a safe and reliable service.”