RED Funnel ferries suffered its first day of strike action yesterday (Wednesday) and further cancellations had to be made due to additional "higher-than-normal" absences as well as those striking.

The ferry operator said it had rebooked 25,000 bookings onto alternative sailings throughout strike days in August.

Unite the Union members intend to strike over several days next month, protesting over pay and conditions.

What has Red Funnel said about the strike?

Fran Collins, chief executive at Red Funnel, described the move as "incredibly disappointing".

She said: "Our offer of 4.5 per cent (and 6.3 per cent for six ranks) is fair and reasonable and aligns with our industry. We are sympathetic to the current cost of living challenges but reiterate that they did not play a part in our pay talks."

Isle of Wight County Press:

She explained that Red Funnel is owned by three pension funds, which represent a range of former public and private sector workers. She said the pension funds have not taken any money out of the business in the last three years, but have provided millions of pounds of finance to support Red Funnel throughout the pandemic and beyond.

She said the priority was to provide a lifeline service, ensuring passengers can travel safely for work, education, and essential medical appointments. 

What does Unite the Union say about the strike?

Unite the Union regional officer Ian Woodland said previously: “Red Funnel have the boats and they have routes on one of the most expensive stretches of water in the world.

"But their operations are crumbling because the company doesn’t invest in its ships and they don’t pay the rate for the job.

"It’s not normal work, there’s long shifts, time spent away from home and all staff are responsible for passenger safety in the event of an emergency.” 

Isle of Wight County Press: Unite the Union members striking yesterday.Unite the Union members striking yesterday.

Red Funnel's response regarding accommodation provided to workers

Ms Collins responded yesterday: “As a 24-hour business we provide colleagues with access to hotels or fully equipped ensuite accommodation, which has been inspected and approved by HSE.

"Unite the Union has been invited to view the accommodation facilities, which they have not yet done."

Further sailings cancelled on first strike day

Further sailings had to be cancelled yesterday evening.

Ms Collins explained: “In addition to planned strike action today, we have experienced a higher-than-normal number of colleague absences.

“We ask for kindness toward our dedicated teams at work during strike days, who are working hard to keep customers sailing under challenging circumstances. We have introduced robust contingency plans including the redeployment of colleagues across the business into key roles.

“We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused and will keep customers updated on our social media channels and the Red Funnel service status page.”

When are the next Red Funnel strike days?

Red Jets, which operate between Cowes and Southampton, are unaffected.

Strike days will be on:

Monday, August 1

Wednesday, August 3

Friday, August 5

Tuesday, August 9

Thursday, August 11

Monday, August 15

Wednesday, August 17

Friday, August 19

Tuesday, August 23

Friday, August 26

Monday, August 29