Thursday, 17 December 2009

Eurostar to break strike with SNCF & SNCB drivers?

Telegrammed by our International Correspondent
According to the Daily Mail a spokesman for Eurostar said:

'There will be no cancellations and no disruption to our service - services on Friday and Saturday will be covered by our French and Belgian Eurostar drivers.'

Well, its their train set so they should know if it is a workable plan, but SNCB is such a tiny partner in the driving stakes that it can barely cover its own turns from Brussels Forest, let alone anyone elses.

Although France is a much bigger player in Eurostar, SNCF mechanicians are not famous for strike breaking. They are obligated to work their booked turns, not to do so would be secondary action - illegal. And there is a process under which French drivers can cover London diagrams if London is genuinely short, or the service has fallen apart. Whether they will step in to do a turn for a London driver in legitimate dispute with his employer is a different question.

If ASLEF puts even a notional one man picket at the London booking-on point (which it is legally entitled to do), EUKL falls flat on its arse - the Le Landy driver travels on the cushions from Paris, takes one look at the picket line and retires to consult by phone with his own French trade union about whether he can or should take up the diagram. This will, naturally, take a little while the French union takes its own legal advice on secondary international picketing - a truly Jarndyce v Jarndyce question. Departure time comes and goes. The train doesn't, and hoards of the Great British Disappointed build up in the holding pens at St Pancras check in. Eventually the union in France advises their member it is a matter of personal conscience for him. He suddenly develops a diplomatic headache and declares himself unfit for duty. Chaos descends from the roof of the great Barlow train shed, and at Gare du Nord three hours later when the back working fails to appear.

And to get just to this state of perterbation, Le Landy must even now be trying to find 10 spare drivers to send to London this afternoon, because if they are going to do the whole London-Paris-London job tomorrow, they have to lodge here tonight. Presumably the French Train Crew Managers must think they can do it, and have told London they are confident of getting them, otherwise the UK spokesman is being (delete as appropriate) improbably optimistic/economical with the verite/spinning out of control.

Luckily we can take comfort from some good news - on the very day the operational and HR side of EUKL were falling out with ASLEF, the marketeers announced this.

Tres Bon et triples tout circulaire.

UPDATE: This from the Major...

How does the Le Landy man get home once he's decided not to drive?

UPDATE: Our International Correspondent advises...

He will travel home on the little jump seat in the front cab of the next Paris train, which will be a booked Le Landy working.

He can't go in the passenger saloons because they will be heaving under the strain of a double load of passengers - its own booked complement and his sweaty delayed masses, and the latter will tear him apart limb by limb when they work out who he is.

So far this morning, (10.00hrs) the departing London turns have been covered by EUKL Driver Managers, who are not in dispute.

Lets hope for the sake of the passengers they have enough management to keep this up for two days.