RMT expresses shock and disgust at Wightlink’s reluctance to take up taxpayer support as members prepare for strike action over attack on conditions
WIGHTLINK UNION RMT expressed shock and disgust today over lifeline ferry company Wightlink’s dismissal of public funding which could help ease the financial pressure created by the pandemic.
The union is currently in dispute with the company and has announced a raft of strike dates from April over an attack on pensions, terms and conditions. The union has been appalled by the cavalier attitude of the company to consultation over their plans and the failure to take up financial support that could have mitigated the current situation.
On 15 January, the Treasury announced £6.5m to keep ferry services running between the mainland and the Isle of Wight. This is the second package of state funding for Wightlink and other lifeline operators during the pandemic.
Yet footage has emerged online of Wightlink CEO, Keith Greenfield describing the £6.5m pot as “…numbers I don’t recognise from the scheme details I’ve seen.” And that it is “unclear” how Wightlink and other Solent operators can access this support.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“Senior management at Wightlink are exploiting the second wave of the crisis by trying to force through permanent contractual changes and pension cuts which my members have rejected.
“Wightlink’s loyal staff gave up pay and mucked in to see the company through the first wave of the pandemic and now they see the employer turning their nose up at public funds to maintain the supply chain and links to emergency NHS treatment during a second, deadlier wave of Covid-19.
“This is no way to run a lifeline ferry service in a time of deepening crisis and I urge the employer to take up unconditional financial support from the taxpayer and then get back around the negotiating table with RMT.”