Industrial news in brief

Submitted by Matthew on 13 November, 2013 - 12:55

Outsourced cleaning, catering, and security workers at the University of London are balloting for strikes in their long-running campaign to win sick pay, holiday, and pension equality with their directly-employed colleagues.

The workers are organised by the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB), a small union with few resources. Solidarity and financial support are essential if the workers are to be able to take the kind of action necessary to force concessions from the bosses. You can donate to the strike fund online.

For more information on the campaign, including updates on the ballot result and strike dates, see, and

Rail cleaners occupy bosses' office

By Jonny West

Cleaning workers employed by Mitie on First Great Western (FGW) trains occupied FGW’s Swindon offices as part of a two-day strike to win living wages.

Mitie Group made pre-tax profits of £58.8m in the last financial year, and paid out dividends to shareholders of £20.6m (an 11.9% increase on the previous year’s figure). Its highest-paid director “earned” nearly £1.4 million, a 7.4% increase. Despite this, cleaners still earn less than the £7.20 “living wage” (£8.55 in London). The workers’ union, the RMT, has rejected a 3% pay increase offer. Mitie cleaners earn 30% less than workers doing the same job who are employed directly by FGW.

The strike also seeks the end of “zero-hours” contracts for FGW cleaners.

RMT said: “First Group landed a jackpot rollover with a two year contract extension on Great Western that will make them and their sub-contractors a fortune, but while the boardrooms are awash with cash, exploitation at the sharp end on this prestige, inter-city rail contract is rife.”

RMT is also balloting its members in all grades on London Underground for strikes against the use of agency labour. A union statement said: “As of 2 April this year, there were 829 ‘non-permanent’ staff on London Underground. LUL’s continuing use and abuse of agency staff is seriously detrimental. We reaffirm our demand that LUL stops using agencies and offers their workers permanent employment — including those of the 33 former Trainpeople employees that it has not yet employed.”

The ballot closes on 2 December.

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