Thursday, August 23, 2012

Road Haulage and Bank Holiday Chaos Averted as Toll Booth Strike Called Off

Agreement Details Being Thrashed Out
Shipping News Feature

UK – The proposed strike by toll booth operators at the Severn Bridges due to commence tomorrow and timed to cause maximum disruption coming at the start of a Bank Holiday weekend has been called off. Yesterday road haulage representatives were still warning of possible chaos to freight and passenger vehicles alike but last night news came of a breakthrough in negotiations.

The Severn crossings are a vital component in the Trans European Network and before the news of agreement came through there were calls to simply open the toll booths to allow free traffic flow during the industrial action. Prior to the news last night Ian Gallagher, Policy Manager for Southwest & Wales at the Freight Transport Association said:

“The Concessionaire must not adopt a piece meal response to any strike action by limiting the number of booths. Strike action can only result in one response by the concessionaire that of opening the gates allowing free flow traffic.”

The toll collectors, members of the Unite union had said that the employer’s intent to change working shift patterns breached their contract and imposed extra strain on workers whose lives would be disrupted. News of the suspension was greeted warmly by drivers regularly using the crossings and Unite regional officer, Jeff Woods, explained the decision to suspend action by saying last night:

"Following a meeting today between Unite staff representatives and Severn River Crossing management, Unite has suspended the 24-hour strike action that was due to start on Friday. Unite and the company have reached agreement on a range of issues, including those that initiated the vote in favour of industrial action."