7 August 2014
Following a solid strike on 1 August over jobs and workplace justice, RMT Eurostar cleaners at St Pancras station are escalating their action and are now set for a 48 hour strike from 5am on Friday 15 August to 5am on Sunday 17 August. This will see Early, Late and Night shift workers on strike on both Friday and Saturday.
The cleaner’s downed tools at 5am this morning [1 August] in 24 hours of high-profile action in the heart of London designed to shame the company, and those who hire them at the top of Eurostar and St Pancras International, into reversing their savage cuts plans.
RMT has demanded this morning that Interserve call off immediately a campaign of intimidation and bullying targeted at union members who have overwhelmingly voted for the strike action.
Like many contract cleaners, the Eurostar contract is subject to regular tender with cut-throat cleaning contractors competing to win the work. Staff get transferred from one contractor to another like pieces of meat, but the business model of the companies is all the same – hacking back on pay and conditions to maximise profit while offering the workforce as little as possible.
Interserve won the St Pancras/Eurostar contract from Network Rail in exactly this fashion – through a massive cut in the price for the work. In order to protect the company profits and hand-outs to shareholders Interserve have imposed 30% job cuts on their cleaning workers. This means massive pressure on the staff making up for the people who have been cut.
Staff are also sick of the workplace culture – continual aggression and bullying from the employers who expect the same standards of work and output, but with a third less staff. As RMT says “They call it efficiency – we call it harassment.”
As a result staff have had enough and are making a stand by taking 24-hour strike action from 5am today. The workforce already suffer from low pay, no sick pay and get only the statutory minimum from our employer, but they are not prepared to be intimidated anymore. The workloads that Interserve is imposing are too much and will not be tolerated in the culture of bullying and harassment that is rife at the prestigious Eurostar, St Pancras International terminal.
The RMT union demands are simple:
• An agreement with our union on staffing levels at St Pancras/Eurostar;
• A fair and reasonable workload for cleaners at St Pancras/Eurostar;
• To be treated with dignity and respect.