Socialist Worker

Eurostar strikers take further days of action

by Matthew Cookson
Issue No. 2171

Cleaners on the Eurostar trains at St Pancras International have announced a further six days of strikes over their treatment at the hands of the Carlisle company.

The members of the RMT transport union have already struck solidly for 48-hours over pay, job cuts, the imposition of a finger-printing machine to clock in and the victimisation of their union rep.

They now plan to strike on Friday and Sunday of this week, 16, 18 and 30 October, and 1 November.

The mainly migrant workers struck for the London Living Wage in August last year against their former OCS employers. That company promptly lost the contract to clean the Eurostar trains at St Pancras International.

But since Carlisle came in, work has become even harder for the cleaners, with accusations of bullying and harassment made by the workers.

The company’s plans were laid bare in a boss’s email, which has been seen by RMT members. It read, “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.”

The workers’ RMT rep Mohammed Yellow has been suspended from work since May, and still doesn’t know the charges against him. Yellow told Socialist Worker, “The company has not backed down so we can’t either.

“They have refused to negotiate after our 48-hour strike. The RMT is ready to talk but we have not had any proper offer.

“We need fair treatment, fair pay and sick pay. We will not be treated like slaves.

“We believe that the company wants to pay us just the minimum wage, like it does with the majority of its other employees across the country.

“It can’t do that because we won higher wages through our union organisation. But we believe that they want to replace us with cheap labour.

“Carlisle made people redundant who had been working on Eurostar trains for ten years and sent them home. That’s not right.

“Many people cannot cope with management’s attitude towards us. There are people crying every day.

“We are not going to give up. We are going to stand firm and fight for democracy and human rights. We want people to support us physically and financially.”

Email messages of protest to Eurostar’s chief executive at nicolas.petrovic@eurostar.co.uk and Carlisle’s transport business manager at simon.wisdom@carlislecleaning.co.uk Email messages of support to m.lynch@rmt.org.uk


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Tue 29 Sep 2009, 18:27 BST
Issue No. 2171
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