By Sam Ord
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2789

Train cleaners across Britain fight for higher pay

Issue 2789
Striking cleaners in the RMT union picketing in Crewe

Atalian Servest cleaners picketed across Britain (Picture: RMT)

Outsourced train cleaners employed by Atalian Servest Limited are taking to picket lines in widespread strikes for higher pay.

Despite working throughout the Covid-19 pandemic many receive just £9.68 an hour and have no sick pay.

So far only workers outside of London have been offered a measly pay rise of 2p an hour. Bosses refuse their demands for £9.90 an hour.

Workers held picket lines between Thursday and Saturday in several towns and cities including Carlisle, Liverpool and Wembley, north London.

Strikers know there is money for pay. Their union the RMT, revealed that the company paid £10.8 million to its parent company last year.

This money would be able to give 300 cleaners £15 an hour three times over.

Another pay battle among hundreds of cleaners is brewing across the south east of England. Workers on four separate services provided by outsourcing company Churchill are balloting.

The cleaners work on Thameslink, Southern, Great Northern, Southeastern, High Speed 1 and Eurostar services.

Many of the cleaners are paid only £8.91 per hour. But Churchill paid a £12 million dividend last year which would be enough to rise all wages to £15 per hour.

“We’re having to literally fight with them when they could easily give a pay rise to us,” Churchill cleaner Bella told Socialist Worker.

“It comes from pure greed and they’ve got away with it for so long. Attacking our terms and conditions, keeping us on minimum wage and minimum everything, including uniform standards.”

Alongside pay Churchill cleaners are fighting for free transport, “It’s the guys in London I feel sorry for”, said Bella. “A lot of them are paying about £240 a month just to get to work.”

Hit hard to win on Tube

Workers on the London Underground have begun a work to rule against attacks on jobs, pensions and working arrangements.

Yet the workers—members of the RMT—voted by 94 percent to strike in a ballot that ended earlier in January. Bosses want to make workers pay for the fall in income from passengers during the pandemic.

The workers showed clearly they’re ready to strike. RMT should call strike dates immediately.

The RMT union has written to London mayor Sadiq Khan over suggestions that strikes could have forced a retreat over Night Tube working. Members of the RMT union are striking every weekend against plans to make every worker take at least one Night Tube shift a year.

Yet at a London Assembly committee, deputy mayor Seb Dance said, “It is not the case that drivers will have to work a night shift.” Strikes should not be suspended until the attacks are fully withdrawn.

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