Tube cleaners: striking to win dignity at work

Submitted by AWL on 10 August, 2012 - 12:36

I'm employed by ISS [one of the main cleaning contractors operating on the Underground] on the Northern Line. The strikes have been good so far; we need to keep building and raising awareness of the dispute, including getting more publicity and press coverage.

The strike hasn't been strong everywhere. Managers have been phoning individual workers telling them not to strike, telling them that the strike won't win. They've been intimidating workers and it has an impact on the number of people prepared to strike.

The cleaning companies have been flooding the stations with extra agency staff to undermine the impact of the strike. They're not legally allowed to hire scab labour just to break a strike but they can use the cover of the Olympics to hire a lot more agency staff than they would have to make sure they've got cover during the strikes.

We want an Olympic bonus but people feel more passionately about the wider, general issues - the living wage, staff travel passes, sick pay, and pensions. Not having travel passes kills us; fares have gone up, but our wages haven't.

We're striking for dignity and respect at work. Cleaners are the bottom of the pile on the Underground. At some stations we're not even allowed to sit in the mess rooms with the other workers.

We need to keep our strikes going, and build political pressure too. We should be taking direct action against Boris Johnson, and against the fat cat bosses who run the cleaning companies. It's time to take the fight to them.

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Submitted by Newcastle on Fri, 10/08/2012 - 18:03

I'm involved in soldiarity work with the cleaners, and workers liberty activists have been involved in campaigning, supporting picket lines and fundraising. We're organising a benefit for metro cleaners at Irish centre in Newcastle on Friday 24 August.

But yes we need to learn the lessons from other cleaners disputes and link up now, I discussed this with Craig Johnstone RMT organiser on picket line on Monday and have since with AWL RMT members on tube in london. So we should follow this up.

Get in touch if you think you can help in anyway, or have ideas. Ed (ed.whitby[at]workersliberty.org)

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