Cleaners on the London Underground walked out today, Thursday, for the start of a two-day strike over pay and conditions.
The RMT members are demanding the London Living Wage, an Olympics pay bonus and improved working conditions. This is their second strike in two weeks. Their employers, ISS and Initial, have refused to negotiate.
The cleaners are one of the few groups of workers on the underground who do not receive free travel.
“We are striking to improve our conditions,” said one striker. “We have to pay to use the underground to get to stations we have to clean. And if we fall sick, we don’t get sick pay.”
Many of those picketing spoke to Socialist Worker about management attempts to intimidate workers.
One cleaner said, “Management have been calling people, telling them that the strike will not work and that if they join a picket they will be disciplined and will lose their jobs.”
There were picket lines at a number of stations in defiance of this bullying. The cleaners received good support from passengers, they said.
Strikers held a lunchtime rally outside Stratford station in east London, near the Olympic Park. They chanted “Boris Johnson—shame on you!” and “ISS—International Slave Services!”
RMT rep Clara Osagiede told Socialist Worker, “People say we are militant for striking during the Olympics, but we want to tell people our views.
“We do so much to keep London clean and moving, yet we are treated as if we are nothing. We want to be treated with dignity and to be paid enough to live.”
Tube bosses and cleaning companies are using agency workers to break the strike. The cleaners need broader solidarity and a big public campaign to step up the pressure.