Eurostar security staff go on strike for four days in December for pay

Go places? Security queue at the Eurostar terminal at London St Pancras International (Simon Calder)

Travelers hoping to escape by train to Paris, Brussels or Amsterdam in the run-up to Christmas could see their plans ruined by the latest strike.

RMT union members working in London St Pancras as security staff for Eurostar will be gone for four days in a pay dispute: Friday 16th, Sunday 18th, Thursday 22nd and Friday 23rd December.

The dates have been chosen to coincide with what are expected to be the busiest days before Christmas, particularly for outbound British passengers on trains passing 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.

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

Security personnel are contracted to facilities management company Mitie. The RMT says the hourly wage is just £10.66.

Talking with The independent at a UCU rally outside King’s Cross station in London, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “Low pay must stop. Security personnel and cleaning staff do vital work over there.

“Security personnel keep our people safe and keep travel safe, and they are responsible for immigration controls and all sorts of work that is absolutely essential to that service.

“They have been exploited for a long time. I campaigned on this and the union campaigned on this, but frankly their wages have gone down.

“So Eurostar, not the contractor, has to make sure they are paid correctly.

“This is a business that will return to profitability, they can step in and make sure their contractor provides a decent pay raise and decent terms and conditions.

“And if we can get that, we can fix the problem quickly.”

A spokesperson for Mitie said: “We are disappointed that RMT has made the decision to take industrial action, as we have already offered a significant wage increase and wage negotiations are ongoing. We remain open to continuing these discussions.

“In addition, we recently announced a £10m winter support package, designed to help Mitie’s lower paid colleagues with the rising cost of living.

“As always, our priority is to ensure outstanding services are delivered as normal so passengers can 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 mainland Europe were returning to normal after a second day of disruption due to power problems and a train breakdown.

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