By Sam Ord
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2795

Churchill rail cleaners set for new round of strikes

Outsourcers can be beaten by determined action
Issue 2795
A group of 20 Churchill rail cleaners looking confident in Parliament Square with RMT placards and  banners

The last strike was confident and determined (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Train cleaners employed by outsourcing giant Churchill will escalate their previous 24-hour strike to a 48-hour walkout from midnight this Saturday.

The cleaners are fighting for £15 an hour and for their jobs to be brought in-house by the rail companies that employ them. They hope this will guarantee them fair sick pay and free travel.

The RMT members’ action will affect Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern, Southeastern, Eurostar and HS1 services.

The first day of strike on 23 February was the biggest strike by cleaners in the history of the railways.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said, “Churchill’s treatment of cleaning staff who have risked their health and safety to work throughout the pandemic is a disgrace. Workers on low pay are much worse off now than 12 months ago and multimillion-pound contractor Churchill has failed to recognise that.”

Workers on the national minimum wage are more than £1,000 a year worse off now than they were 12 months ago as a result of rising inflation.

Conductors keep fighting

Transpennine Express (TPE) conductors continue to walk out for pay each Sunday after announcing several more strike dates.

Sunday of last week was the fourth day of action alongside action short of a strike. The RMT union which represents the workers revealed that TPE’s owners have taken out dividends worth £30 million from their rail empire whilst denying workers a pay rise.

TPE bosses are also waiting for the transport secretary’s permission to pay out a further £33 million. FirstGroup which operates TPE is back to profiteering as usual says the RMT.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said, “If you want to see an example of gross injustice, compare the treatment of essential key workers on the railways with the frankly revolting profiteering from the owners of Transpennine Express.”

He added, “Managers intone piously about disruption to passengers, but their companies are leeching millions out of our railways with the connivance of a callous government.” Workers must be prepared to escalate their battle.

Two wins over outsourcers

Outsourced cleaners at Facebook headquarters in central London have won a living wage after over a year of campaigning.

The members of the Caiwu union will now be paid the London Living Wage of £11.05 by their employer Churchill Cleaning.

They have also won concessions over workload. Workers are clear that while some of their demands have been met, there is still more to fight for.

The unfair dismissal of union rep Guillermo Camacho has yet to be resolved.

Cleaners at the British Medical Association have also won the same benefits as staff directly employed by the association.
This will include sick pay, 12 percent employers’ pension contributions and seven days extra holiday.

Action gets results.

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