Socialist Worker

Tube cleaners suspended after strikes

by Matthew Cookson
Issue No. 2110

Several migrant workers who are fighting for decent pay and conditions on London Underground have been suspended by an employer.

The workers, who are cleaners in the RMT transport union on the tube, have struck for three days demanding the London living wage and other benefits from their employers – the ISS, ICS, Initial and GBM contractors.

ISS has suspended a number of workers following a recent 48-hour strike and the previous 24-hour strike on 26 June.

Clara Osagiede, the secretary of the cleaners’ grade of the RMT’s Finsbury Park branch, told Socialist Worker, “The workers have been suspended from work after they received a letter saying their national insurance number was wrong.

“They had all been working for their employers for a number of years. The national insurance numbers were OK until the workers said no to exploitation. People now fear they could face deportation.”

One of the suspended workers told Socialist Worker, “ISS sent me a letter telling me there was a problem with my national insurance number and that I was suspended.

“This letter was waiting for me when I returned home from picketing during the strike.”

ISS was unavailable for comment when contacted by Socialist Worker.

“The union will not leave these cleaners to be victimised,“ said Phillip Mambuliya, the chair of the RMT’s cleaners’ grade. “We have to stand up and fight this.

Struggle

“All the cleaners want is to live like human beings. They have worked hard and paid taxes.

“They can’t survive on what they are paid – around £5.50 an hour. They are only existing, not living. Life is a struggle. We are trying to stop this.”

“What is happening to the cleaners is an outrageous attack on trade unionists,” said Unjum Mirza, the secretary of the RMT’s Stratford No 1 branch.

“We need to support these workers in any way we can, including donating to their financial appeal.

“The union is planning more action in early August, including a big rally in defence of migrant labour.”

Cleaners and their supporters protested outside London mayor Boris Johnson’s question time on Wednesday of this week demanding he give them a London living wage, as he has promised Transport for London workers.

Send messages of support and donations to c/o Olly New, RMT, 39 Chalton Street, London NW1 1JD. Cheques payable to “RMT Finsbury Park branch”

GBM and Initial deny suspending any workers over their national insurance numbers. ICS was unavailable for comment when contacted by Socialist Worker


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News
Wed 16 Jul 2008, 18:58 BST
Issue No. 2110
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