11th November 2020
Wightlink has today launched a consultation with its workforce as it prepares for continuing difficult trading conditions because of the Coronavirus crisis.
A day after the company suspended its FastCat service between Portsmouth and Ryde Pier and reduced sailings between Lymington and Yarmouth because of falling passenger numbers during lockdown, the ferry operator maintains it must become a more sustainable business to cope with future financial risks and to make sure services and jobs can be protected.
Wightlink lost £20 million in revenue at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The country is now back in lockdown with non-essential travel banned and passenger volumes are not expected to return to normal in the foreseeable future.
The company has put forward a proposal with three elements to ensure it emerges from the pandemic as a sustainable business. They involve changes to pensions, flexibility in working patterns and changes to terms and conditions for future employees. If the proposal is accepted there will be no compulsory job losses as a result of the current crisis.
Wightlink Chief Executive Keith Greenfield says:
“It is my duty to ensure that Wightlink survives this crisis, however long it lasts. We must manage our current costs and future financial risks to protect jobs and our lifeline connections for Islanders.
“The pandemic has had a devastating effect on the travel sector and wider industry. There have been widespread job losses, changes to terms and conditions and long term pay reductions. We do not want to see this happen at Wightlink.
“If we can reach agreement with our colleagues and trade unions to combat these financial challenges, we can avoid compulsory redundancies and protect Wightlink’s services for the future.”
Wightlink staff have 60 days to comment on the proposals. They include the ending of accruals in the legacy Defined Benefit (DB) pension, with existing benefits protected, the doubling of company minimum contributions to the Defined Contribution (DC) pension which a majority of employees belong to, new terms and conditions for new joiners and, if the proposals are accepted, a generous mutual severance scheme and a pledge that no employee will lose their job as a result of the pandemic.
For more information about Wightlink, please contact:
Duty Media Officer
07870 906 189