Workers operating the Woolwich Ferry have voted to go on strike in protest against TfL's management in the latest episode of the "Groundhog Day' dispute.

The ferry workers voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action across eight days in May and June, and the new operators Transport for London say the service will not run if the action goes ahead.

A spokesperson for TfL said they had "reached out multiple times to Unite" and urged them to reconsider.

Unite say they are striking over the victimisation of a union rep, with the walk out happening on May 14, 24, 28, and June, 1, 4, 7, 11, 21, likely causing disruption to commuters.

News Shopper: TfL: The Woolwich FerryTfL: The Woolwich Ferry

On top of this, the employees are "angry" at the failure to agree a new pay and reward scheme, a lack of adequate health and safety training to new employees and excessive use of agency staff, the union said.

Relations between the union and the ferry's employers have been extremely poor for a number of years, with dozens of strikes carried out in protest against the previous operators Briggs Marine Contractors.

As well as employee disputes, the Woolwich Ferry had been plagued with technical difficulties ever since the start of 2019, and by November that year the running time lost to delays was already equivalent to an entire month.

TfL opted to take over the ferry service in 2020 after Sadiq Khan admitted "dropping the ball" on the issue, and promised better reliability and customer service.

News Shopper: PA: Sadiq KhanPA: Sadiq Khan

But Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said it was "a sad indictment of the TfL bosses that they seem to be following the same course as Briggs Marine Contractors." which meted out some appalling employment practices to the workforce."

A TfL spokesperson said: "We have reached out numerous times to Unite about their concerns, and urge them to call off their proposed strike action and instead work with us to resolve this issue."

It is expected the ferry service will not run during the proposed strike days, with the Woolwich Foot Tunnel or the DLR alternatives for travellers.

Pre-Covid, around 20,000 vehicles a week were using the free service across the Thames, and an estimated 2.6 million passengers used the ferry annually.

The Woolwich Ferry opened in 1889, following the abolition of tolls across bridges to the west of London, but a ferry has been in place at the site since the 14th century.

In April, it emerged the ferry workers were to be balloted for strikes over issues including pay, safety and the alleged victimisation of a union rep.

And Kasab added: “Our members have returned an overwhelming mandate for strike action at the Woolwich Ferry in support of their victimised shop steward and over a myriad of other employment issues.

 “Hopefully, the ballot result will be a light bulb moment for TfL and the management can get employment relations back on an even keel before strike action begins.

"To that end, Unite’s door is open 24/7 for constructive talks to resolve all the outstanding issues. 

“The strikes will cause disruption to car drivers and foot passengers as ferry traffic picks up with commuters returning to their workplaces in the capital following the easing of lockdown.”