Eurostar security staff to strike for four days in December over pay

Union predicts stoppage ‘will severely affect Eurostar services and travel plans’ before Christmas

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Thursday 01 December 2022 07:12 GMT
Going places? Security queue at the Eurostar terminal at London St Pancras International
Going places? Security queue at the Eurostar terminal at London St Pancras International (Simon Calder)

Travellers hoping to escape by train to Paris, Brussels or Amsterdam in the run-up to Christmas could have their plans wrecked by the latest strike call.

Members of the RMT union working at London St Pancras as security staff for Eurostar will walk out on four days in a dispute over pay: Friday 16, Sunday 18, Thursday 22 and Friday 23 December.

The dates have been chosen to coincide with what are expected to be the busiest days before Christmas, especially for British passengers heading abroad on trains through the Channel Tunnel.

Services are already expected to be disrupted by a separate nationwide RMT strike involving Network Rail staff: between 13 and 17 December some early and late trains are likely to be cancelled.

The RMT union says more than 100 security staff will take part in the action, and that it will “severely affect Eurostar services and travel plans for people over the December period”.

The security staff are contracted out to the facilities management company Mitie. The RMT says hourly pay is as low as £10.66.

Speaking to The Independent at a UCU rally outside King’s Cross station in London, the general secretary of the RMT, Mick Lynch, said: “Low pay has got to end. The security staff and cleaning staff do vital work over there.

“The security staff keep our people safe and keep the journey safe, and they are responsible for immigration checks and all sorts of work that is absolutely essential to that service.

“They’ve been exploited for a long time. I’ve been campaigning on it and the union’s been campaigning on it, but frankly their wages have slipped behind.

“So Eurostar, not the contractor, have got to ensure that they are paid properly.

“That’s a company that is going to go back into profitability, they can step in and make sure their contractor provides a decent pay rise and decent terms and conditions.

“And if we can get that, we can get the issue settled quickly.”

A Mitie spokesperson said: “We’re disappointed that RMT has made the decision to undertake industrial action, given we have already offered a significant pay increase and pay negotiations are ongoing. We remain open to continuing these discussions.

“In addition, we recently announced a £10m Winter Support package, designed to help the lowest-paid colleagues across Mitie with the rising cost of living.

“As always, our priority is to ensure that exceptional services are delivered as normal so that passengers are able to continue their journeys with minimal disruption.”

A Eurostar spokesperson said: “We are aware that negotiations between Mitie and the unions are ongoing.

“If there is any impact on services we will update customers as soon as possible.”

The union’s announcement came as trains linking London with continental Europe were returning to normal after a second day of disruption due to power-supply problems and a broken-down train.

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