Socialist Worker

London rail workers on track for action

by Matthew Cookson
Issue No. 2113

Workers in the RMT transport union in London are involved in a number of disputes on London Underground and on the rail.

These involve the cleaners on London Underground and Eurostar, workers on the Metropolitan Line and workers at the Tube Lines consortium. The disputes could come together in action later in the month.

Tube cleaners in the RMT are set to strike for 48 hours from 5.30am on Thursday 21 August. Cleaners have already struck for three days to demand the London living wage and other benefits from their employers – the ISS, ICS, Initial and GBM contractors.

A number of the mainly migrant workers have been suspended from work over allegations that their national insurance number was wrong.

In a separate case, trade unionists in Stonebridge Park, west London, lobbied a disciplinary case of a cleaners insisting that she have union representation. Management adjourned the meeting.

This followed a large Brent trades council meeting, which heard RMT cleaners’ rep Clara Osagiede put forward the workers’ case for better pay and conditions.

Phillip Mambuliya, the chair of the RMT Finsbury Park branch cleaners’ grade, told Socialist Worker, “We are now building solidarity. I travelled to meet the Argos strikers in Basildon last weekend.

“They are facing a similar situation to us, with bosses attacking them. We will be having a strike committee meeting this week to decide how we will go out and campaign for the action.”

Balloting

Maintenance workers in the RMT at Tube Lines are currently balloting for industrial action over a pay offer that would leave them worse off than workers at Metronet and London Underground.

The Tube Lines consortium covers the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines.

The Metronet consortium that was charged with infrastructure maintenance on the rest of the tube went into administration last year.

The ballot of workers closes on Wednesday of next week.

RMT members on the Rickmansworth Group are set to strike on Thursday of this week after management decided that some staff members were “surplus to requirements” and to be compulsorily transferred.

Workers at the group voted overwhelmingly to take action, which will hit the Metropolitan Line.

The RMT London transport regional council has called a pre-strike rally on Tuesday 18 August in central London to draw these, and other disputes, together.

The main speaker is RMT general secretary Bob Crow. The rally is at 6.30pm, Friends House, Euston Road (opposite Euston station).

The RMT is also balloting 125 cleaners who work for the OCS contractors at Eurostar over their pay and conditions of work.

If the ballot is successful, a strike will hit the sites at Temple Mills and St Pancras International.

Roselyne Fong is an RMT functional councillor on Eurostar who helps to organise the cleaners. She told Socialist Worker, “OCS is claiming that the RMT is not willing to negotiate, but we have been pressing them to have meetings for months now.

Demanding

“The cleaners, who are mainly African workers with some eastern Europeans, are earning £6.03 an hour. They are demanding a decent pay rise, and management wants to give them 25p extra an hour.

“This is a slap in the face when inflation is rising massively. This is not just about money though – it is also about dignity at work.

“The cleaners want decent sick leave and more than the basic annual leave they currently get. One cleaner’s mother passed away and she was not allowed leave to go to the funeral. The company is also imposing a roster on its workers.

“The union hopes that OCS does not have its contract renewed when it is up again soon, because of the way it treats its workers.” The ballot closes next week.


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Article information

News
Tue 5 Aug 2008, 17:37 BST
Issue No. 2113
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