Published: 09:01, 09 July 2020
| Updated: 09:16, 09 July 2020
Union chiefs say they are calling on government support to protect proposed job cuts at Eurostar - a move they say would have "serious implications" for the Kent economy.
Rail union the RMT says its has learned the operator of the high-speed rail European rail service are looking to make 20% cuts in order to ease financial pressures caused by the pandemic.
Since travel restrictions were introduced, services have not called at either of the two Kent international stations as Ebbsfleet or Ashford.
It is not known how many jobs are at risk, but it will impact Eurostar's operations in the UK, France and Belgium.
The RMT warns that alongside cuts to ferry operators, Kent and the stations at Ashford and Ebbsfleet would be hit "particularly hard".
It is calling on Transport Minister Grant Shapps to intervene "as a matter of urgency".
RMT senior assistant general secretary, Mick Lynch said: "RMT is demanding government support to protect Eurostar jobs and services from the fall out of the pandemic and to recognise the long term importance to the British economy of these cross-Channel transport services as we look to the future. Short-term cuts would have dire long-term consequences.
“The Eurostar announcement mirrors similar cuts plans coming out of the ferry sector and would have particularly serious implications for the economy of Kent.
"RMT will be seeking urgent talks with the government to stop this cull of jobs and services which would leave Britain ill-equipped to kick-start the economy with cross-channel tourism and trade.”
The RMT says it is engaged in talks with Eurostar over the cuts.
A spokesman for Eurostar said: "The impact of Covid-19 has led to an unprecedented fall in demand across the travel industry.
"We are taking steps to protect Eurostar for the long term by reducing costs across the business, and are taking a considered approach to reducing our payroll costs, working closely with trade union partners.
"We are looking to introduce reduced hours and part-time working wherever possible throughout 2021 to protect as many jobs as possible and retain the knowledge, skills and experience of our people for the recovery, keeping any potential redundancy to a minimum."
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