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Cowes Week set for turmoil as Isle of Wight ferry workers plan strike

By Liam Tucker
5 August 2022

Isle of Wight ferry-workers are to take industrial action throughout August.

Trade union Unite are seeking a pay increase of 16% for Red Funnel workers, most of whom are on minimum wage. The company responded to Unite with offers ranging between 4.5% and 6.3%.

The ferry operator said the industrial dispute has cast doubt on the UK’s oldest sailing regatta, Cowes Week.

It’s predicted that thousands of passengers will face significant travel disruption unless worker demands are met.

Unite’s General Secretary said, Sharon Graham spoke about the planned action: “Unite will not stand for Red Funnel’s disgusting treatment of these workers. Red Funnel’s owners are awash with cash.

"They can afford to pay and right the wrongs our members are subjected to. Our members are absolutely right to strike to end this injustice. Unite will be supporting them with its full force every step of the way.”

Meanwhile, Chief Executive Fran Collins of Red Funnel said: “As one of the biggest events on the island calendar, Cowes Week is essential to the Isle of Wight economy, and we are working hard to maintain services during this time. All passengers who’ve booked with us on strike days have been notified of the ferry crossings they are on.

“It is incredibly disappointing that despite our ongoing conversations with Unite, and our desire to reward teams with a fair and reasonable pay increase, our customers continue to be impacted by strike action.”

With the regatta running from July 30th, the organisers of Cowes Week said there was the potential for “massive disruption” for spectators if passenger ferries were cancelled. Red Funnel will operate an altered timetable through August and have had to cancel some ferries on strike days.

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