EUROSTAR LATEST UPDATE: No end in sight to French customs protest, says union
The situation on the Eurostar had seemed to ease on Friday, with the company saying things were “progressively returning to normal”, but on Monday morning passengers were again reporting long queues and chaotic scenes at Paris' Gare du Nord station.
Eurostar's official advice was for passengers not to travel as industrial action by French customs staff continues.
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7:46am, 20 minutes into a ??? minute wait for the #Eurostar. Was hoping that Monday would be better than Sunday, but 10:04 train already delayed. Will update as the line progresses. #eurostardelays pic.twitter.com/hKKLCbnWoM
— Lindsay Burton (@lindsayb_reads) 25 March 2019
A Eurostar spokesman said: “Due to industrial action, we are experiencing very long queues in Paris Gare du Nord and some delays on trains from this station.
“We would advise not to travel from Paris unless necessary and it will be possible to change the date of your journey free of charge or claim a refund.
“Should you wish to travel, please arrive at the station at the time indicated on your ticket. We will do everything we can to accommodate you onto the next available service, if necessary.”
?Eurostar Paris Nord 25.3?
9:55am | Latest update |
Please bare with us, queue times currently 2-3h.
Strike set to continue over next few days.
— LawrencePNO (@LMEEurostar) 25 March 2019
One train was cancelled on Monday – the 21:03 from Paris to Ebbsfleet International and London St Pancras.
On Friday Eurostar had claimed on Twitter that the work-to-rule protest by French customs unions was suspended, but the union hotly denied the claim.
A spokesman for Eurostar on Monday admitted that there had been a “misunderstanding” and the work-to-rule protest continued.
A union official told The Local that the improvement in the service was due to travellers cancelling their trips rather than officials ending their long-running industrial action.
Vincent Thomazo from the UNSA union told The Local: “There is still a French customs movement. The reason the queues are better is because Eurostar's measures of asking people to not to travel or change their plans has worked and fewer people are travelling.”
The work-to-rule protest began on March 4th, and on Thursday the customs union told The Local that it could not say when it would end.
“I completely understand the frustration of the passengers and I'm very sorry for them,” sad Vincent Thomazo from the UNSA union.
“But the government aren't responding to us at all so we have to put pressure on them.
“We don't have any concrete information on when it will end – we'll have to wait and see but we are hoping it won't go on beyond the end of the week.
“The situation is tiring for everyone including those carrying out the industrial action.
“We're hoping to hear that government is willing to give us what we need by the end of the week and we really hope the action will not continue into April and beyond.”
Customs officials are trying to press demands for higher pay and demonstrate what will happen if greater controls are put in place once Britain leaves the European Union, currently planned for later this month.
Instead of going on strike – meaning they would not work at all – the customs officers have been carrying out work-to-rule industrial action which means that they only do what is required by the rules of their contract.
This means that they precisely follow all safety or other regulations, which means lots of checks and questions which has slowed down the flow of passengers through terminals at Eurostar, Eurotunnel and the ports in Calais.