Socialist Worker

Eurostar workers fingerprinted to clean a train

Issue No. 2151

Eurostar cleaners at St Pancras International station in London have voted overwhelmingly to boycott the fingerprinting machines their bosses have installed to replace clocking on and off machines.

The mainly migrant workers, who are members of the RMT transport union, are angry at what they claim is “discrimination” against them.

The workers voted by 30 to one in favour of the industrial action short of a strike. Their indefinite boycott began on Tuesday of this week.

Cleaners at the Eurostar depots in St Pancras and Temple Mills, north east London, struck solidly for better pay and conditions last August.

Following the action, the OCS company lost the contract to clean Eurostar trains at St Pancras. The Carlisle group replaced it, and is now trying to introduce the fingerprinting machines.

A Eurostar cleaner told Socialist Worker, “We are refusing to use these fingerprinting machines because they take our personal data. What other information will the company take?

“The company has only got two years on its contract. No other company uses this machine, and no other Eurostar worker has to undergo this. It is discriminatory.”

Bob Crow, the RMT general secretary, said, “This vote shows just how angry the Eurostar cleaners are at the outrageous introduction of staff fingerprinting and their treatment by the Carlisle Group as little more than common criminals.

“This attack on civil liberties is further proof that our surveillance society is out of control.

“Our members have sent out a clear signal in this ballot to both the Carlisle Group and Eurostar that the company cannot be allowed to introduce these Orwellian working practices.

“RMT welcomes the support that we have had from Liberty on this issue and we hope that the company will now recognise just how offensive the introduction of routine staff finger printing is.

“We are also asking Eurostar themselves to put pressure on the Carlisle Group to have the machines withdrawn.”


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Tue 12 May 2009, 17:19 BST
Issue No. 2151
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