Socialist Worker

Overworked and underpaid, train cleaners strike back

by Sarah Ensor
Issue No. 2347

Pickets at King’s Cross

Pickets at King’s Cross (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Train cleaners and their supporters protested loudly outside Kings Cross station in central London on Friday of last week, at the beginning of a two day strike against their employers ISS. 

They are members of the RMT union.

Cleaner Joseph Brown spoke to Socialist Worker about his experience of working for ISS. 

He said, “I get up at 5am to be here for the first train. If we’re waiting for trains we have to stand round the corner by the bins with the rats running about.

“We’ve only had a 10p pay rise in 12 years. And it’s very expensive to live in London.”

Bosses at ISS made a slightly improved offer last week, but it gave workers on the East Coast lines less than those in London. It didn’t mention sick pay or free travel. 

Another cleaner added, “I work nights but we still only get £6.80 an hour, there’s no night allowance. We don’t get coffee or even water to drink.

“But it’s a hard job—sometimes we collect five or six bags of rubbish from a single carriage.”

The pickets marched down Grays Inn Road and back to the main entrance of Kings Cross where they discussed whether to invade the concourse.

ISS brought in agency workers to scab, but since the first strikes last year the cleaners’ mood of determination and comradeship has grown.

Joseph went on, “This is a two day strike and if it doesn’t work we should strike again and go on till we win.”


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Article information

Fri 5 Apr 2013, 16:02 BST
Issue No. 2347
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