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Thursday 12th
posted by Conrad Landin in Britain

RMT members call for cleaning services to be brought in-house

OUTSOURCED Tube cleaners are “paying for the privilege of cleaning toilets,” they said at a demonstration for fair pay and workers’ rights yesterday.

The workers, organised by transport union RMT, called on London Mayor Sadiq Khan to ditch private contractors and employ cleaning staff in-house.

At a demonstration outside City Hall, London Underground cleaner Richard Crane said: “I’ve now had to take four days off [on holiday leave] because I’ve got the flu virus.

“We have to pay to travel between stations. That means we have to pay for the privilege of cleaning toilets.”

In August, Transport for London announced it had awarded a five-year cleaning contract to the British arm of the US facilities giant ABM. TfL said this would “guarantee” the £9.75 London living wage to workers.

But RMT is demanding sick pay, travel pay and a £10 an hour rate for all staff. The latter is now Labour Party policy. The union also claims that the Labour mayor pledged to take contracts back in-house.

RMT London organiser John Leach said: “The mayor and his officials need to be held accountable for the fact they have missed a golden opportunity.”

Mr Crane added: “We want to bring [cleaning] back in house and we want the mayor to keep his promise.”

RMT executive member Andy Littlechild said workers were “not here to beg, we’re here to demand.”

The demonstration came ahead of the 30th anniversary of the Kings Cross fire next month. The blaze was started when a lit match dropped on an escalator ignited a large residue of grease impregnated with fibrous materials.

“We all remember Kings Cross and the dirt and grease that caused the fire,” RMT general secretary Mick Cash said.

Reps said they were demonstrating outside City Hall because the mayor held ultimate responsibility but Mr Khan’s office referred the Star’s request for comment to TfL.

“Our contract with ABM UK will see our high standards of cleanliness on the transport network maintained and enhanced,” TfL chief procurement officer David Wylie said.

“It is a significant improvement for cleaners across the TfL estate as it guarantees that 2,800 people will receive the London living wage and will mean a significant reduction in the number of agency workers — from well over a third to at most 5 per cent.

“All station cleaning staff are provided with contractor travel passes when they are required to travel between stations during their duties.”