Eurostar train managers work to rule
PUBLISHED: 16:25 25 August 2010 | UPDATED: 16:35 25 August 2010
Eurostar train managers will be working to rule after the company tried to push extra responsibilities on them to cut costs.
Members of RMT, the nation’s biggest rail union, voted overwhelmingly for action after Eurostar, which operates at Ebbsfleet International, wanted to transfer work usually done by platform staff to on-board managers.
Passengers would not directly see any difference but RMT general secretary Bob Crow said if the idea went ahead it would erode rail safety and service standards.
Eurostar bosses wanted to impose what is called ‘self-dispatch’ services onto train managers at Paris from next month, meaning they would have to carry out safety measures such as checking doors are properly closed and that passengers are still not boarding. Members voted by a margin of 24 to one for action in a ballot that closed on Tuesday and RMT has instructed train managers to refuse to carry out train-dispatch duties.
The union said the proposed changes are “a cost-cutting and unreasonable extension of already heavy responsibilities”. Platform staff jobs are also threatened.
Mr Crow said: “Eurostar failed to guarantee that it will not impose self-dispatch, either at Paris or elsewhere on its network.
“Our members have delivered their decisive verdict and the union has instructed them not to carry out self-dispatch duties.
“The company tried to hoodwink our members by claiming falsely that their French colleagues had already agreed to self-dispatch, and that is no way to try to conduct industrial relations.
“This is a purely cost-cutting exercise that would load additional safety-critical responsibilities onto train-managers and we will not stand by and watch the levelling-down of standards.
“We will work closely with our French and Belgian colleagues to defend the safety of Eurostar services and to ensure that the company does not impose working practices that have not been negotiated or agreed.”
Eurostar was unavailable for comment as the Times went to press.
A Eurostar spokesman said it has contingency plans and there would be no disruption to services or passengers but the company is trying to seek an agreement with RMT before any action might start.
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