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Last Updated: Saturday, 28 August, 2004, 11:43 GMT 12:43 UK
Eurostar disputes strike impact
Eurostar train
Eurostar insists it is business as usual
Eurostar claims a strike by RMT members is having no effect on services, although the union says all its members are out.

Customer service staff are staging the 24-hour strike over pay and grades at London Waterloo and Ashford, in Kent.

Eurostar said only seven staff had not reported for work and branded the RMT union "impotent".

But the RMT said all 160 of its members were striking and accused the company of distorting the truth.

Eurostar's communications director Paul Charles told BBC News Online: "Only seven check-in related staff didn't turn up for work out of 1,300 and that has had no impact at all.

"The RMT said 160 people would strike, but they've failed in their attempts to disrupt business.

"The RMT talk a good talk but they have not achieved what they set out to achieve."

He added: "All our trains are leaving on time. There are no long queues on our check-in, everything's normal and the passengers are happy.

"They [the RMT] make these threats but they turn out to be pretty impotent."

Further problems predicted

But an RMT spokesman accused Eurostar of "stretching things a bit" and said all 160 staff were on strike, adding: "[The strike] is almost certainly causing them enormous problems front of house and from what I've been hearing, senior managers have got their hands to the pump."

General Secretary Bob Crow said RMT staff were "solidly" on strike and predicted further disruptions.

He said: "From our point of view we've got a solid strike.

"All our RMT people are out on strike today and that strike will continue when we widen it to the rest of the Eurostar workers.

"It has been 101% supported by the RMT and is just complete lies by the company."

The company is running eight extra trains to cope with demand this weekend. Thirty thousand people are expected to use the services on Saturday, the busiest day of the weekend.

The RMT Executive will meet on Tuesday to discuss balloting members at Eurostar about further strike action

1 Great Western Mainline closed Paddington - Reading
M25 has 40mph limit junctions 12-15 near Heathrow
2 & 3 West Coast Mainline closed Hemel Hempstead - Lichfield and Stockport - Manchester
4 Link roads to M6 spaghetti junction closed
Eurostar - strike but no delays expected by company
Airports - busy but no specific delays expected

Elsewhere, engineering works are expected to cause disruption on two motorways, the M25 and M6, and on several train routes.

Although some roadworks are being lifted for the weekend, motorists are facing 40mph speed restrictions on the M25 near Heathrow airport, while a number of link roads to the Spaghetti Junction on the M6, leading to Birmingham, will stay closed.

An AA spokeswoman said: "We expect people to make the most of the last bank holiday before Christmas and the level of disruption will depend on the weather."

The Highways Agency's chief executive, Archie Robertson, urged drivers to plan their routes in advance and listen to travel bulletins to check latest conditions.

And there is chaos on the railways, with much of the West Coast main line - Hemel Hempstead to Lichfield and Manchester to Stockport - shut for major engineering works.

The Great Western Mainline will also close between London Paddington and Reading, Berkshire.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Hywel Jones
"The management have come in to fill in the gaps"



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