Socialist Worker

Churchill cleaners unite against bosses

by Sam Ord
Issue No. 2778

Protesters Outside Churchill’s headquarters

Protesters Outside Churchill’s headquarters (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Rail and Facebook cleaners employed by outsourcer Churchill united to fight for pay and justice outside the company’s headquarters on Monday.

Dozens of workers from the RMT transport union and the Caiwu cleaners’ union lined the entrance of Churchill’s central London offices.

The rail workers are demanding a pay rise, travel expenses and sick pay.

Cleaning staff have been on the front line throughout the Covid pandemic, but most receive poverty wages.

Churchill has to meet the cleaners’ demands for fair pay and improved conditions.

Jordan, a rail cleaner from Kent, told Socialist Worker that on top of low pay his colleagues face “travel expenses that cost a fortune”.

“A lot of us are paying £200 a month on travel just to get to and from work,” he said. “The pandemic has been hard on our pay—I’ve only ever had one pay rise, and that was ages ago.”

Rail cleaners employed by Churchill cover trains and stations for the Thameslink, Southern, Great Northern and Southeastern franchises.

As the Covid pandemic struck they were handed more work in dangerous situations but no extra staff were employed. Now Churchill plans to cut the number of cleaners on Southeastern trains.

Churchill pays its cleaners the minimum wage and only statutory zero sick pay. Yet its bosses and directors took a £3.8 million dividend in 2020.

Fighting

Churchill’s cleaners at Facebook have also been fighting for better pay and conditions

Caiwu general secretary Alberto Durango told Socialist Worker why it was important to link up with the rail cleaners. “Churchill bosses are allowed by the system to exploit outsourced workers,” he said.

“This happens everywhere, across the country. A united working class is needed to win.”

In a survey of Churchill’s cleaners, 69 percent reported that they have gone into work while sick because they couldn’t afford to stay home.

Phil, an RMT rep on the London Underground, said, “It is clear from the pandemic that cleaners are incredibly important workers.

“They were asked to do extra cleaning to keep people as safe as possible yet they’re on minimum wage and get no sick pay.

“That means if cleaners get sick they can’t afford to stay home. It endangers people with Covid.

“Churchill—who are hiding in this building—and the government have blood on their hands.

“All workers should get paid to isolate themselves.”


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