Socialist Worker

Eurostar: solid pay strike is on track

Issue No. 2170

Cleaners of the Eurostar trains at St Pancras International defied their union busting management at the Carlisle cleaning company when they struck last week.

Members of the RMT transport union voted by 100 percent to strike over pay, the imposition of a finger-printing machine, compulsory redundancies and the victimisation of their union rep. They struck solidly for 48 hours from 10pm on Thursday last week.

The company’s intention was made clear in an email by a Carlisle boss, which RMT members have seen.

This stated, “In truth we welcome the strike, we want the union to come to us cap in hand, it gives us the opportunity to break the union… at Eurostar and other Carlisle contracts.”

Mohammed Yellow, the RMT rep for the cleaners, told Socialist Worker, “The OCS company lost the Eurostar cleaning contract after we struck over pay last year. RMT members told Eurostar that we didn’t want the old style of management.

“But we were told that cleaners didn’t have any choice. Carlisle brought in a fingerprinting machine to clock in on – we are not criminals.

“It refused to give us a pay rise this year. We have no sick pay, pension overtime rates or shift pay.

“It is making 14 people redundant and it suspended me at the end of May. I still don’t know the charges against me.

“The style of management is very bad. Staff are crying every blessed day in this job.”


Another cleaner said, “This is the worst it’s been for us. The company don’t respect people as human beings. They suspended Yellow without any reason.”

Another cleaner added, “We are working every day and we are still hungry. We can’t live on our wages.

“Carlisle says it wants to break the union, but the RMT is our guide that shows us the right way. If it is broken, the company will be able to do anything it wants to us.

“If we don’t get what we want after this strike we will have to strike again until we get it all.”

Craig Johnston, from the RMT executive committee, visited the picket line to show solidarity with the strikers.

He said, “It’s disgusting. The workers here would have to work half a day to be able to afford a glass of champagne in the bar in the station that they work in.

“Carlisle has picked on the wrong people here. The RMT will back the cleaners all the way.”

Email messages of protest to Eurostar’s chief executive at [email protected] and Carlisle’s transport business manager at [email protected]

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Article information

Tue 22 Sep 2009, 18:28 BST
Issue No. 2170
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