Socialist Worker

Cleaners strike on Virgin trains

by Anindya Bhattacharyya and Mike Killian
Issue No. 2276

Train cleaning staff who work on the Virgin West Coast Mainline service tooted horns and waved placards on a lively picket line at London’s Euston station on Friday of last week.

Similar picket lines took place at stations and traincare points along the length of the route.

The cleaners, members of the RMT union, were striking for 24 hours as part of their campaign for better pay.

Carlisle Cleaning and Support Services, the agency that employs the striking workers, has imposed a 1 percent pay increase on their current wage of £6.46 an hour.

Pat Sikorski, assistant general secretary of the RMT, said the union wants to win a living wage for the cleaners.

The union is demanding recognition, a minimum £7.85 an hour plus sick pay, holidays and a pension scheme.

The pay campaign has helped recruit cleaners to the union, he added. “We now have 350 out of 450 people at Carlisle,” he told Socialist Worker.

Over 40 pickets were out before the night shift at the Longsight, Manchester.

“I’m passionate about what I do,” said striker Simon. “Carlisle are the worst I’ve ever worked for. They made over £16 million from the first six months of the contract—but most staff haven’t been given work boots.”

Carlisle have also withheld bonuses due to a number of strikers. The union is considering further action.

A solidarity picket, with other trade unionists joining in to prevent strike-breaking by a scab contractor, would put real pressure on Carlisle and Virgin.

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Article information

Tue 1 Nov 2011, 19:35 GMT
Issue No. 2276
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