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Christmas strike fear for Eurostar in shift dispute

PUBLISHED: 15:58 19 November 2008 | UPDATED: 10:16 23 August 2010

EUROSTAR staff are threatening strike action in the lead up to Christmas following a dispute over shift patterns. The Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) and the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) are urging nearly 100

EUROSTAR staff are threatening strike action in the lead up to Christmas following a dispute over shift patterns.

The Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA) and the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) are urging nearly 100 Eurostar managers to vote industrial action.

It is claimed managers, including those based at Ebbsfleet, were not consulted before new rosters requiring them to work four weekends out of five were announced.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: "The company's own policy clearly states that local working arrangements are discussed at local level, but it has completely disregarded agreements, bypassed levels of negotiation and sought to impose unfair rosters.

"Our members are angry that the company is attempting to undermine their ability to balance their working and home lives, and it is time for Eurostar to step back and talk."

Both the RMT and TSSA opened ballots last Thursday (Nov 13) which will close next Thursday (Nov 27) and are urging the company to reconsider the disputed rosters or face industrial action as Christmas approaches. Union representatives claim workers on this side of the channel are doing 80 per cent of the weekend shifts where before they used to share them 50-50 with their counterparts on the continent.

TSSA general secretary Gerry Doherty said: "We are very disappointed that managers based on this side of the Channel are being treated so unfairly given all the co-operation and flexibility they showed in getting services back on track after the recent tunnel fire.

"No one wants to see services disrupted in the run up to Christmas, and the way to avoid this is to share equally weekend working among train managers on both sides of the Channel."

Eurostar says that the rosters where designed to share the work fairly.

A spokesperson for Eurostar said: "Eurostar always consults with its train managers whenever new timetables are planned that require new roster patterns. It did so on this occasion and reasonable adjustments were made. The new roster patterns are designed to share the workload fairly across the UK, France and Belgium.

"Eurostar is disappointed that RMT and TSSA have seen fit to ballot its UK train managers over potential strike action.

"Eurostar is committed to resolving this dispute and to avoiding further disruption to its travellers in the run up to the busy Christmas period."

jason.goodyer@archant.co.uk

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