RMT Demands Network Rail Investigation Into Strike-breaking Operation At St Pancras Eurostar Cleaning Company

RAIL UNION RMT today demanded an urgent Network Rail investigation into claims passed to the union by staff that the company at the heart of the St Pancras/Eurostar cleaners poverty pay dispute, Initial, is allegedly planning to utilise an “in house” agency to break the strike which is using Bulgarian and Romanian workers registered as self-employed with limited company status to avoid basic UK employment rights and to get round the agency worker regulations.

In the letter to Network Rail, on the eve of the first of two 48 hour strikes which will start tomorrow (16th February) 0600 hrs, RMT General Secretary Bob Crow says:

“It has come to my attention that Initial intends to use “in-house” agency staff to replace their permanent staff in order to try to break the strike. The agency is called AGS and it operates from the same Brunswick House address as Initial and seems to be a subsidiary of the company.

According to our information, the agency staff are mostly Bulgarian and Romanian. When signing up with the company they are forced to register themselves there and then as Self-Employed with Limited Company status. This results in them having no entitlement to holidays or other UK employment benefits and allows the company to get round the agency worker regulations.

It is our firm belief that if these allegations are proved correct, vulnerable workers will be exploited by Initial to break the strike. Rather than doing this they should be seeking a negotiated settlement with RMT. We demand an urgent investigation by yourselves into these allegations.”

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said today:

“These are extremely serious allegations that have been raised with RMT on the eve of the first 48 hour strike involving the St Pancras/Eurostar cleaners and we have written to Network Rail, who contract Initial, demanding an immediate investigation into these alleged employment practices.

All that we are fighting for is justice for the cleaners who look after the prestige Eurostar/St Pancras terminal and that means a living wage and an end to the scandal of poverty pay.”