Friday 27 July 2012

Cleaners Strike At Heart Of Olympic Greed

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”

Down on the picket-line at Stratford depot earlier, I spoke to one of the pickets, Tommy*.

“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 








  1. Liz Pike said:

    It takes a lot of nerve to stand up to management when you are dependent on such a megre wage, well done to all involved in this strike, your courage marks you out as winning against those who will not do the decent and right thing in the first place and pay you a wage worth working for.

    29 July 2012 at 1:07am
  2. Jen said:

    It’s shameful that anyone could fault you staunch workers for showing your power and highlighting the gap between the rich and poor to the world during the Olympics. At $2400 (NZ) per ticket, who can afford going to see the Olympics? And yet the organisers are happy to pay you – the people who keep the Olympics clean and safe – less than you need to survive much less participate. This is exactly why we need a Living Wage – so everyone has enough to make ends meet and particpate and have time with their families. Well done cleaners! Solidarity!

    30 July 2012 at 1:16am

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