Tube cleaners who are refusing to use “biometric fingerprinting” machines to book on for shifts remain locked out by their employer, ISS, with the lock out now stretching into its third week.
ISS want the machines, which take unique DNA-based data from everyone who uses them, to replace the existing method of booking on using telephones, and have already admitted that the data collected would be shared with the UK Border Agency and the Home Office. One cleaner told Solidarity: “This is a racist attack on a predominantly immigrant workforce.”
The locked-out cleaners are using their time to visit other London Underground workplaces to raise awareness of their dispute, including talking to cleaners working for Initial (the other major company which provides cleaning services on the Tube). It is widely believed that if ISS are able to introduce the machines, Initial will soon follow.
Two cleaners who participated in the boycott of the machines have been sacked; their union, RMT, is pursuing appeals.
Meanwhile, London Underground workers are gearing up for more action in their dispute over job cuts and ticket office closures, as ongoing talks and reviews reveal the full extent of management’s cuts plan. Major stations like Oxford Circus stand to lose up to five full-time-equivalent staff posts under the company’s new regime, and there will be a massive increase in the number of stations where lone working will take place. London Underground is also attempting to renege on the commitment it made after RMT’s April strikes to maintain salary levels for all workers affected by the cuts. It is now suggesting staff will have to undergo assessments in order to keep their current salaries.
RMT, along with fellow Tube union TSSA, has written to London Underground management restating their opposition to cuts and closures, and demanding written and binding commitments on issues such as salary.
At the RMT’s “Listen to London” conference on 26 July, union activists along with community campaigners from Disabled People Against Cuts, the National Pensioners’ Convention, and other groups, met to discuss increasing public political campaigning against Tube cuts, including leafleting and petitioning at local stations.