Cover-staff are being used to keep the Cowes/East Cowes chain ferry afloat today (Wednesday), four days after the service had to be withdrawn to cars and other vehicles.
On Saturday and Sunday, only pedestrians, cyclists and emergency vehicles were allowed to cross. For a time on Friday night there was no service at all, leaving a foot passenger stranded and faced with taxi fares of £60.
The situation's arisen because a number of staff are off sick, forcing operator Isle of Wight Council to make alternative arrangements.
Mark Chiverton's the Island UNISON union Branch Secretary. He says the problems at the weekend have highlighted a dispute between staff and the authority over working conditions following a review of all employees.
Peter Hayward, Isle of Wight Council head of highways and transport said “I would reiterate that the weekend problems affecting the Floating Bridge were entirely down to severe staff shortages due to illness.
“Although some staff are still off work due to illness or injury, the Floating Bridge is running as normal with support from relief staff from a similar marine environment. These staff have been trained in the operation of the ferry and successfully operated the craft at the weekend to ensure that the Randonee was not disrupted. The relief staff are always paired with a permanent member of staff and there are no concerns for safety on the chain ferry.
“The council has not been given any notice of potential industrial action by Unison."
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