Staff at cross-Solent operator Wightlink have voted in favour of carrying out strike action.
Over 400 workers have been balloted by the RMT union as a result of the company proposing to slash workers’ pension rights and change their working conditions.
Negotiations have failed to produce an offer on pensions and terms and conditions that meet ‘the very reasonable demands of the workforce’, according to the RMT.
Of the 418 eligible staff members of Wightlink Ltd and Wightlink (Guernsey) Ltd, a total of 304 decided to have their say. 270 voted in favour of taking strike action against 34 who said no – a majority of 88%.
As previously reported by Island Echo, the RMT has said that Wightlink’s action had been ‘particularly disgraceful’ due to the fact that at the height of the pandemic (April to September) employees loaned 20% of their salary and gave up terms and conditions for 6 months to allow the company to keep trading.
The result of ballot exceeds the legal thresholds and the National Executive Committee of the RMT is now considering this result.
UPDATE @ 13:25 – A spokesperson for Wightlink has said:
“Wightlink is consulting on a proposal which includes doubling pension contributions for more than 50% of the workforce and closing the Defined Benefit scheme to future accruals. This proposal would avoid compulsory job losses or pay cuts, which many other companies in the sector have already made.
“Wightlink is disappointed that members of the RMT have voted for industrial action, including the possibility of strikes, before the consultation process has completed and at a time when all businesses need to become more efficient.
“Wightlink still needs to take steps to become a financially sustainable business and will complete its consultation on pensions and other issues.
“The company continues to talk to the RMT and hopes that the union will realise that now is not the time for industrial action but instead to consult on the proposed changes which would avoid compulsory job losses or pay cuts”.