Wightlink’s actions ‘border on piracy’

By Richard Wright

Sunday, November 11, 2012

 

THERE was this week a rising tide of criticism from passengers and the main Wightlink union to the ferry company’s cuts in services, jobs and pensions — with one saying the company’s actions bordered on piracy.

In the wake of the announcement of late-night and early-morning service cuts on all its routes, there was angry passenger reaction on the County Press website.

Campaigner Chris Whitehouse summed up passenger reaction in a letter to Wightlink chief executive, Russell Kew.

"Wightlink have already ramped up fares in recent years. This double whammy of increased fares and reduced services isn’t just unwelcome, it borders on piracy. Wightlink must think again," he said.

"Where was the consultation with local residents?"

"What consideration was given to the Island’s tourist industry and the wider business community?

"It seems the owners of Wightlink are gradually tightening their fingers around the Island’s neck and strangling its economic lifeblood."

Although Wightlink said only two per cent of customers would be affected, there were those who said they depended on particular sailings.

One, Paul Robinson, from Hope Road, Ryde, chose to return to the Island so he could commute to his bus driving job in Portsmouth on the 4.47am FastCat — one of the sailings to be axed.

"It will make it very difficult for me," he said.

Mr Robinson said he appreciated he was one of only a small number of passengers using the sailing but thought the cuts signalled the start of a return to previous timetabling, which bore no consideration for the needs of passengers.

"I would urge all users to write to Wightlink expressing their concerns — in the vain hope we may be listened to."

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said:"The union is deeply concerned about the potential threat to jobs, services and pensions from the current Wightlink proposals.

"We are in the process of an extensive consultation with our members and remain in negotiation with the company."

Reporter: richardw@iwcpmail.co.uk

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