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Avanti West Coast cleaners strike just to pay the bills

RMT union members are striking on Avanti West Coast trains—and there could be a national rail strike over pay
Issue 2800
Seven RMT members stand with a banner outside Carlilse station

Pickets in Carlisle (Picture: RMT)

Outsourced cleaners on Avanti West Coast trains struck for 48 hours last weekend in their battle for fair pay.

The cleaners work for outsourcer Atalian Servest for just £9.68 an hour. They demand a living wage and a sick pay scheme. One striker said, “At the end of every month I have nothing left to spend with my kids, I have to skip things that are important for my family. I really struggle with my current salary.”

A huge 91 percent of Atalian Servest cleaners say they’re struggling to make ends meet according to an RMT poll. A shocking 94 percent of cleaners also said they had to come into work sick because they couldn’t afford not to.

Push for a national rail strike

As rail workers face pay freezes and redundancies, RMT union members must build for a vote for strikes across 15 train operators and Network Rail. The ballot could mean a strike of 55,000 rail workers across Britain over pay and conditions.

Workers are bracing for huge attacks—and face up to £400 million in cuts. In RMT union meetings they have argued that mass participation by the rank and file in the strike is crucial.

Some workers have learned the lessons from the RMT leadership’s P&O failure that resulted in 800 job cuts. In a meeting of over 80 in Birmingham one member said we can’t rely on legal challenges.

Large, sustained strikes can win—and other rail unions such as TSSA and Aslef should support and join them.

Action suspended on Woolwich Ferry—but workers plan new ballot

The Unite union has suspended strikes on the Woolwich Ferry connecting east and south east London in a “goodwill gesture” to bosses. But it is also preparing a fresh strike ballot in the long-running dispute.

Poor employment relations have plagued the service for years. Six workers, including two Unite reps, remain suspended since the last round of industrial action ended on 28 March. Workers are also fighting for a new pay and reward scheme.

They oppose the excessive use of agency staff and the failure to provide adequate health and safety training to new employees. Large scale and sustained strikes are the solution to reinstating the suspended workers and silencing the bosses.

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