Cleaners employed by ISS, Initial and Carlisle on London Underground and the Docklands Light Railway started their 48 -hour strike for the London Living Wage, an Olympic bonus and free travel.
Despite most London transport workers securing an Olympic bonus, LU and DLR cleaning contractors are failing to pay the recommended London Living Wage of £8.30, let alone entertain a bonus for the extra work that will be undertaken by their staff.
Despite intimidation from managers and attacks from sections of a media fixated on the Olympics, cleaners strike action held firm, and then they took their vibrant and angry protest to within spitting distance of the Olympic Stadium in Stratford.
At the protest speaker after speaker drew the scandalous contrast: a corporate circus costing billions with the mess cleared up by mainly migrant workers on little more than £6 per hour.
As RMT official Glenroy Watson said: “”If cleaning contractors can’t pay a living wage it means the bosses don’t want their workers to live”
“Until I got involved in the union they used to leave me alone, but managers would harass the black guys. It was obvious that the bosses felt that they were more vulnerable. But when they started organising, the bosses picked on the Eastern Europeans. But since the strike was called, we’ve been recruiting loads to the union recently. The real problem is the way the contractors use agency workers to divide us as well.”
Just as the picket is about to get ready to join the rally, a worker takes a leaflet from Tommy and complains about the awful treatment workers are getting. Tommy talks to him about joining the union and the strike. He’s not sure about striking today, but wants to join and takes some forms for his workmates.
The strike continues tonight and tomorrow, with Oyster and “Boris Bikes” workers who were also taking strike action today.
*Given the management intimidation, some names have been changed