Woolwich Ferry workers could hold up the introduction of new boats as they vote whether to go on strike over pay.

The new hybrid boats are set to be up and running on December 31 after months of work renovating the ports.

However, workers claim a new shift system will result in significant cuts to overtime pay for working at the weekend.

The workers have grown frustrated by ferry bosses’ alleged refusal to discuss the introduction of the shift system, which they could leave them as much as £1,000 per month worse off.

Ballot papers for a strike vote, involving four Unite members employed as engineers and electricians by Briggs Marine Contractors Limited, were dispatched yesterday and the ballot will close on December 4.

As well as pay, there are also concerns over the employer’s alleged refusal to discuss and address the health and safety impact of lone working, under-staffing and the outsourcing of work to subcontractors.

Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “Bosses at Briggs Marine who run the Woolwich Ferry have consistently failed to discuss our members’ concerns and instead are trying to railroad through changes which could leave them up to £1,000 out of pocket per month.

“Management’s high-handed attitude and cost-cutting agenda could ultimately result in a poorer service and provoke strike action that would disrupt the launch of new hybrid boats when the service reopens on New Year’s Eve.

“We would urge ferry bosses to recognise the depth of anger among our members and start to address their concerns.”

A spokeswoman for Briggs Marine said: "We do not recognise the need for strike action and remain open to discussions with Unite."