Socialist Worker

London Underground cleaners set to strike on Friday and Saturday

by Clara Osagiede, RMT cleaners grade secretary for the London Underground
Issue No. 2312

Striking cleaners outside St Pancras International Station earlier this year (Pic: Smallman )

Striking cleaners outside St Pancras International Station earlier this year (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Cleaners on the London Underground are striking on Friday 27 July and Saturday 28 July for basic rights, dignity and an end to injustice.

Ever since their jobs were privatised, cleaners in the transport sector in general and on the London Underground in particular have been exploited by unscrupulous contractors.

The RMT union has for over 12 years relentlessly campaigned, politically and industrially, to stop the disgraceful treatment of these workers.

Poverty pay, bullying, sexual harassment and the use of racist immigration controls to threaten and harass workers means this is modern day slavery.

London Underground cleaners struck for the first time ever in 2007 and won the London Living Wage.

This was agreed at £7.45 an hour and was supposed to be increased annually—but this has not happened under Tory mayor Boris Johnson.


Disgracefully, cleaning companies have not hesitated to use border control agencies to target the cleaners’ leaders and those who are regarded as troublemakers.

Cleaners who have paid national insurance for years are suddenly told that their NI numbers are not valid and that they face deportation.

There is a regime of fear which means some unscrupulous managers pressure women into sex as the price of keeping their jobs. The intimidation is so strong that there are few if any formal complaints at such treatment.

Another scandal is the way some agency workers are told they must pay up to £500 for managers to recommend them for a permanent job.

In 2009 Initial won the cleaning contract on the Bakerloo, Central and Victoria lines. It bid at a low price—and we believe that the company is attacking workers to try and make up the money.

We have had enough. We want dignity and respect. It’s outrageous that we don’t have free travel on the network we clean.

During the Olympics we’ll be expected to clear up for an extra million people every day—for nothing extra. Let us have our talents and hard work recognised.

Our demands include:

  • a living wage of £10 an hour at entry level

  • an Olympic bonus of £500 after tax

  • a pay increase each year and every year

  • a decent pension and fair sick pay scheme

  • free travel on the rail networks we clean

  • a 35-hour week without loss of pay

  • direct employment and an end to contracting-out

Join the cleaners’ protest at Stratford station, 12 noon, Friday 27 July

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Article information

Mon 23 Jul 2012, 17:06 BST
Issue No. 2312
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