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Primrose Jeanton
Job title
RMT convenor
Railway workers on Eurostar have secured a great pay deal following negotiations between the RMT union and management. 

The deal means all directly employed Eurostar staff will get a pay rise of between 8 and 17% depending on their grade and role (backdated to May). 

And staff on £45,000 or below will get a minimum uplift of £4,300. 

We spoke to RMT convenor Primrose Jeanton, who is based at St Pancras station in London, about how the deal was done. 

Primrose told the TUC: “I started at Eurostar over a decade ago, back in 2012 and I first became a rep in 2014.  

“There were a few issues at work which spurred me into becoming a rep, as I was interested to see how it all worked from the other side. And my father was in the RMT, so I had a bit of knowledge around what unions are about.” 

Pay negotiations 

Primrose said the annual Eurostar pay deal starts from 1 May, so the RMT began negotiations on this year’s pay claim a couple of months in advance. 

She told the TUC: “We had some discussion in our branch about how to approach the claim. We always look at RPI and average earnings and work out what to ask for. 

“In previous years, we’ve tended to get the straightforward flat rate increase we normally ask for as part of the claim, but we didn’t last year. So that was a red line for us this time round. We absolutely needed it to help our members through the cost-of-living crisis.” 

Time to talk 

Primrose told the TUC that RMT reps had a series of meetings with management. She said: 

“The initial offer from management was 6% and no flat rate. That was nowhere near good enough for us. 

“We knew we had the full support of our members behind us. We have a great team of reps,  we have a high union density here and we’ve previously had ballots on non pay-related issues – so we have a strong mandate. 

Negotiations were tough but quicker than last year.  We knew management were never going to start with their best offer. And being aware of the company’s profits, we knew there was a deal to be done.

Primrose said communication with RMT members was key. She said: “I know people can get a bit overwhelmed with information over email, and some of us get a lot of emails! 

“With that in mind, I decided to make a one-minute animated video, explaining the outcome of different meetings. That was easy to distribute as we could do it via broadcast messages, and it really engaged members.” 

By standing their ground, keeping members involved and being assured of their support, the pay bargaining team were able to secure a pay rise of 8-17% for all directly employed Eurostar staff. And staff on £45,000 or below will get a minimum uplift of £4,300. 

Other measures included within the package are increases in travel benefits, 100% basic pay for weeks 27-40 of maternity leave and support for bringing in greater digital services. 

Do your prep 

Primrose has some words of advice for other reps negotiating pay deals. She said: “The prep you do before you even start the discussions is vital. 

Make sure you have an engaged and organised workforce. Talk to members and get them on board. Then you can tell management that you will ballot for industrial action if necessary – that's a really powerful bargaining tool. 

“Also be absolutely clear as a team of reps about what you want. Talk to them all about it so you go into the meetings on the same page. And make sure you know exactly which deal benefits everyone, from the bottom of the pay scales to the top. 

“And I’d say it’s very important to communicate with your members regularly and make sure you feed back any updates to your branch.” 

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “I congratulate our members on securing a negotiated settlement on pay and conditions. We have negotiated a settlement on pay, secured jobs and improved the conditions for our members. 

“This approach from Eurostar is a far cry away from the train operating companies who want to cut thousands of jobs, close hundreds of ticket offices and offer us a measly pay deal. 

“RMT has negotiated pay deals on every part of the railway where the Department of Transport does not have the mandate over the rail operators.” 

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