Thursday, March 20, 2008
A strike that was due to take place tomorrow and would have brought Solent ferries to a standstill has been suspended. More than 100 Wightlink employees who operate the Portsmouth to Fishbourne route were planning to walk out from 5am tomorrow for 24 hours. Their action has been suspended after last-ditch talks today hammered out the potential basis for a settlement. The dispute between Wightlink and RMT union members was over the imposition of earlier working rosters. The company's revised offer, on which the union will now consult representatives and members, would give an additional £75 to those operating the early morning sailings at the centre of the dispute.But it would also involve RMT reps drawing up a schedule for 2009 which would not require a start time before 5.30am. RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: "The talks have yielded significant progress on the core issues of principle, which is that Wightlink has recognised it must negotiate rather than impose. "In addition to a payment of £75 for operating the earlier sailings this year only, the company has agreed to schedule sailings for future years that do not require a start time before 5.30am, and to involve RMT reps in drawing schedules up. "The action is therefore suspended to allow our members, who have stood shoulder to shoulder on this issue, to be consulted on the offer."