Tube cleaners strike for living wage

AROUND 700 RMT Tube cleaners working for four private contractors are to stage a series of strikes after voting by a landslide 125-to-one margin for action to win the London living wage and decent working conditions.

Cleaners working for ISS, ITS, ICS and GBM will not book on for shifts that commence during the 24 hours between 18:50 next Thursday, June 26 and 18:49 on Friday June 27. A second, 48-hour, strike is also scheduled for all shifts commencing between 18:50 on Tuesday July 1 and Thursday July 3.

The union is also demanding 28 days’ holiday, sick pay, decent pensions and travel facilities, and an end to the barbaric practice of ‘third-party sackings’ in which cleaners can be dismissed, with no disciplinary hearing or right of appeal, at the behest parties other than the employer – a device used to get rid of union activists.

“This was a massive vote for action by a group of workers who are among the most exploited and abused in London, and their anger is clear for all to see,” RMT general secretary Bob Crow said today.

“Their bosses are making huge profits at our members’ expense and wouldn’t bat an eyelid at spending more on a single meal than many of our members earn in a week.

“A London living wage is reckoned to be at least £7.20 an hour, yet there are Tube cleaners who are paid at rock-bottom minimum-wage rates little more than £5.50 an hour.

“Sick pay, adequate holidays and a decent pension scheme are not optional luxuries, they are basic decent employment standards, and it is outrageous that the people who keep one of the world’s most prestigious metro systems clean do not already get them.

“The previous mayor promised that cleaners on Metronet contracts would receive the London living wage as soon as they passed into TfL control, and if Boris Johnson wants to be seen as a mayor for all Londoners he will honour that pledge.

“Tubelines bosses know that paying cleaners the London living wage would barely dent their £1 million-a-week profits, and it is time they stopped hiding behind their contractors and lived up to their professed aim of ‘treating others as we would like to be treated,” Bob Crow said.

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