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Eurostar staff start first of four strikes

Eurostar train

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PA

The first of four separate Eurostar strikes by staff from two unions gets under way on Friday in a dispute over members’ work-life balance.

Members of RMT will go on strike from 12 to 15 August, and 27 to 29 August during the bank holiday weekend.

TSSA staff plan to strike on 14 and 15 August, and 28 and 29 August.

Eurostar has made some modifications to its Friday timetable to ensure “all passengers will be able to travel”, with two services cancelled.

A Eurostar spokesman said: “We are aware of the plans for strike action and our focus has been seeking a joint resolution whilst planning to provide a good service for our customers.”

The cancelled services on Friday are the 08:04 service from London to Brussels, and the 12:52 departure from Brussels to London.

“If booked to travel on one of these trains you will have been contacted offering the option to exchange for another train on Friday 12th or to an alternative date,” Eurostar said.

Eurostar runs services between London and mainland Europe, and the walkouts coincide with the Assumption Day holiday in France and Belgium on 15 August and the 29 August bank holiday in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has said the actions “feel like an excuse to be militant”.

But the RMT says the dispute concerned unsocial hours and duty rosters for about 80 train managers. It says Eurostar has failed to honour an agreement from 2008 over conditions for their staff.

General secretary Mick Cash said: “Our train manager members at Eurostar have a heavy commitment to shift work and unsocial hours and are sick and tired of the company’s failure to honour agreements.”

Meanwhile Manuel Cortes, TSSA union general secretary, said there was still a “window of opportunity” to solve its dispute in talks with management on Friday.

“This is a long-standing issue and there is still time to resolve it if common sense prevails on Friday. No one wants to see disruption at holiday times and we will be working for a peaceful solution.”

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