Speaking in Support of Tube Cleaners

Today at TUC Women’s conference, PCS moved a motion congratulating their members at BEIS for successful strike action, and drawing attention to the appalling conditions that outsouced workers, many of them women, face. I made the following contribution to the debate.

Congratulations to PCS on its brilliant win at BEIS and solidarity with your ongoing sturggles at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and elsewhere.

I want to tell you about the conditions in which women (and some men, mostly migrant men) work as cleaners on London Underground.

  • Their work is outsrouced to multinational ABM.
  • They work long, anti-social hours doing unpleasant and dangerous work.
  • Their pay is so low that it would take a cleaners 246 years to earn the £4.5 million that ABM gives its Chief Exeuctive every year.

It is a scandal that in 2020, we are having to fight for such basic rights as:

  • company sick pay
  • decent pensions
  • travel passes on the services they help to deliver.

I’d love to be able to tell you that we also have strike action that you can support. But sadly, we fell foul of the Tories’ anti-union laws.

Late last year, RMT balloted 629 ABM Tube cleaners and got a 98% majority on a 48% turnout – a massive mandate, you’d think, but falling just short of the threholds required by the 2016 Trade Union Act.

Perhaps the biggest scandal of outsourced tube cleaners’ appalling pay and conditions is that this is happening under a Labour administration. Sadiq Khan has been London’s Labour Mayor for four years. In that time:

  • he could have grought Tube cleaning inhouse – but he hasn’t
  • he could have improved Tube cleaners’ pay and conditions – but he hasn’t
  • he could have given cleaners free travel – but he hasn’t.

So come on Sadiq – You expect us to vote for you and to campaign for your re-election in May, so the least you could do is to act like a Labour Mayor should act and deliver justice for Tube cleaners.

Download Page Content (.pdf)