Billionaire owners are holding down pay while Isle of Wight workers turn to food banks...that is the reason Unite the Union is giving for calling its Red Funnel members out on strike during the peak summer holiday period. 

It claims Southampton-to-Cowes ferries will shut down as workers challenge Red Funnel’s owners to get rid of poverty pay. 

Around 20 per cent of Red Funnel staff are Unite members.

The result of the ballot was announced yesterday.

The union must give two weeks' notice of any action, and Red Funnel has confirmed bookings up to July 19 will not be impacted.

Fran Collins, chief executive of Red Funnel, expressed her disappointment in the decision.

In a statement, Unite said: "Around 120 Red Funnel staff working on the Isle of Wight route, the majority of whom are on the minimum wage, voted by 88 per cent for strike action in a ballot with an 84.2 per cent turnout.

"The workers have rejected a pay offer of 4.5 per cent, rising to 6.5 per cent for the lowest paid staff, far below the real cost of living, currently running at 11.7 per cent and rising." 

Unite said customer service staff, shunters and ratings are increasingly struggling to pay increased rents. Some are turning to food banks and making the most of food allowances at work to keep bills down.  

Read more: How Unite union announced strike ballot

Red Funnel is owned by the £11.5 billion West Midlands Pension Fund and the £3.5 billion Workplace Safety and Insurance Board of Ontario. 

Isle of Wight ferry company: Unite leader statement

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Red Funnel is another employer that can afford to pay a decent wage but is refusing to do so. This is unacceptable.

“This mandate for strike action is no surprise to us — it should act as a wake-up call to this employer because these workers are done waiting and are ready to fight for a pay rise. They will receive Unite’s total and utter support in that fight.” 

It said the dates of the strike action, which it claims would shut down all Southampton-to-Cowes ferry services, will be announced in the coming days.  

Isle of Wight County Press: The Red JetThe Red Jet

The Red Jet passenger ferry makes a minimum of 21 crossings between Southampton and Cowes on Monday to Saturday and 15 on Sunday. The car ferry makes at least 19 crossings daily between Southampton and East Cowes.  

Unite regional officer Ian Woodland said: “The responsibility for these strikes and the disruption they will cause lies entirely with Red Funnel who have failed to put forward an deal that will tackle low wages and rising living costs.

"These strikes can still be avoided but Red Funnel needs to put forward an offer that our members can accept.”  

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