Eurostar workers begin four-day strike


Eurostar rail workers have begun a four-day strike in a dispute over work-life balance, reports The Guardian.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union will walk out from Friday to Monday, followed by three days over the bank holiday weekend from 27 August. A picket line will be mounted outside London St Pancras, where trains leave for Paris and Brussels.

One train in each direction between London and Brussels was cancelled on Friday, but Eurostar said it expected to operate a normal service on Saturday. The company said it was working on plans for Sunday and Monday and would be able to accommodate all customers booked to travel.

The union said the dispute centres on Eurostar’s failure to honour an agreement from 2008 which sought to ensure that train managers could expect a good work-life balance in terms of hours and duty rosters.

Around 80 train managers are involved in the dispute. RMT members voted in favour of strike action, claiming that their work-life balance was being “repeatedly undermined”.

Mick Cash, the union’s general secretary, said: “Our train manager members at Eurostar have a heavy commitment to shift work and unsocial hours and are sick and tired of the company’s failure to honour agreements.

“Our members have every right to have a fair work-life balance that fulfils the operational needs of the company while guaranteeing quality time off for friends and family. It’s now time for Eurostar to come to the negotiating table with a set of proposals that honours our agreements and guarantees our members a genuine work-life balance.”

A Eurostar spokesman said: “We are aware of the plans for strike action and our focus has been seeking a joint resolution whilst planning to provide a good service for our customers.

“On the days of the strike we have made some small changes to our timetable to ensure that all passengers booked to travel will be able to on those days. Passengers affected will be notified in advance.”

The TSSA rail union announced that its train manager members on Eurostar will strike on 14 and 15 August and for two days over the bank holiday weekend – Sunday 28 August and Monday 29 August – in the same dispute.

Its general secretary, Manuel Cortes, said there was still a “window of opportunity” to solve the dispute in talks with management on Friday. “This is a long-standing issue and there is still time to resolve it if common sense prevails on Friday,” he said.

“No one wants to see disruption at holiday times and we will be working for a peaceful solution.”