Socialist Worker

Mitie cleaners strike for a third time to demand a living wage

by Sarah Ensor
Issue No. 2378

Striking First Great Western (FGW) train cleaners demonstrated outside Paddington Station this morning, Friday, in their third strike for a living wage from outsourcing giant Mitie.

The cleaners who are in the RMT union are also set to demonstrate at FGW’s headquarters in Swindon today.

Mitie bosses sent all the cleaners’ letters by special delivery this week offering 3 percent increase backdated to April this year. It would work out for most as 19 pence extra an hour. The cleaners want £8.55 as well as sick and holiday pay and overtime for Sundays.

“It’s bullshit”, a cleaner said, “Mitie’s made at least £99 million profit this year, this is way off respecting someone who works hard for you.”

“We’re striking Friday, Saturday and Sunday because they’re so busy. You can see how dirty the trains get—on Sundays we’re running from 3.30pm to 11 at night with no breaks.”

The bosses’ letter also offers permanent contracts to the workers on zero-hours but only if they work regular hours. One worker who has cleaned the trains for five years got hardly any hours for six weeks earlier last summer on a manager’s whim.

The letter makes clear that the strikes are hitting Mitie hard. Bosses are worried about their contract with First Great Western. Other companies have lost contracts because cleaners fought them for better wages.

“There are more of us striking today,” another added, “We asked new people to join. Some were a bit scared but we told them they will be safe in the union.”

Another cleaner said, “What use is 19p to me. If they want I’ll strike a week or a month to get a living wage. I’ve already lost a lot of money working for Mitie.”

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