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Support groups for Tube Cleaners Strike meeting , Saturday 17th February at 14:30, Transport House, London

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Jason Cortez
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Feb 9 2007 09:45
Support groups for Tube Cleaners Strike meeting , Saturday 17th February at 14:30, Transport House, London

URGENT CALL: SUPPPORT TUBE CLEANERS STRIKE

Dear friends

the cleaners in London Underground have been campaigning for over a year for a living wage and fair terms and conditions. It has been a very difficult fight for two reasons: the complex web of public private subcontracting in the Tube, and the vulnerability of exploited migrant labour. We are still a long way to go to see this 99,9% African migrant workforce treated with dignity and respect.

Now Tube cleaners find themselves facing massive cuts in numbers because the reasons above mean that the profiteers running our "public transport" think they can get away with anything. Over 200 cleaning jobs are going to disappear in order to save private infrastructure consortium Tubelines around £4 million, allegedly without any lowering of cleaning standards. This amazing feat of cutting so much money without any effects is only possible in the fairy world of Tube PPP. What they mean is that there will not be a drop in their measurements of cleanliness, which are based on customer satisfaction surveys carried out by "mystery shoppers". The consequences of this flawed system is that anything not visible to the naked eye, such as microbes, do not count towards the financial carrots and sticks that underpin the PPP.

This is bad news for both Londoners and Tube cleaners, who see their demands slip further away while their workload increases, and of course no mention of a pay rise. It also means that other Tube companies will try to achieve similar savings in this and other fields where there are holes in the PPP contracts.

Facing this situation the cleaners affected, who work for the contractor ISS in the Jubilee, Piccadilly and Northern Lines, are balloting for strike. But this is not going to be an easy fight, and we will need all the support we can get.

We call on labour activists, community campaigners, migrant supporters, and generally all who care about social justice to volunteer time for the campaign. It can be as much or as little as you can. We need:

- Help with a very complex balloting process and strike covering over 150 work sites all over London, in shifts 24/7. A majority of the workers need a second job to survive, so they have little time, and many live in fear due to the anti-migrant rhetoric that surrounds them. There are only 3-4 weeks for this, so it is really urgent to start in time.

- Everyone to come to actions to put pressure on the institutions involved: ISS cleaning, Tubelines, AMEY (owners of Tubelines), London Underground, Transport for London and the GLA. The actions will have clear guidelines and stewardship to make sure they are inclusive and everyone is safe.

- Supporters with stable migration status to carry actions to raise the public profile of the campaign, and picketing of key stations and depots during the strike, which may be dangerous for vulnerable migrants.

We have hesitated for a long time in asking for help from activists, because the ultimate goal is to build a union of migrant cleaners and excessive early involvement of experienced UK activists can develop the wrong sort of relations. However, we now feel that the campaign is ready for help that will prop rather than supplant workers' self-emancipation. This is not a charity.

Please, come to the first public meeting where we will explain the campaign in detail and start forming support working groups. We will provide adequate training and will try to cover in as much as possible the expenses incurred.

Saturday 17th February at 14:30

Transport House
128 Theobalds Road
WC1X 8TN

Holborn Tube. Call Javier on 07900 160 851 for any queries.

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the button
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Feb 16 2007 09:33

Bump-bump-bumpety bump. I'm going to this, and will be going for a beer with any other reprobates that turn up in the lovely Princess Louise pub nearby (£2 a pint, not bad for central London).

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Steven.
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Feb 16 2007 09:53

yup i'm going to try to come to this as well...

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Lone Wolf
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Feb 17 2007 07:55

Lovely offer from the Button and well done to Jason for posting this. I was hoping to come also but as i have yet ANOTHER heavy cold - atishooo! - i am not up to this sadly. sad But i hope it all goes well guys and keep us posted. cool

In Solidarity

LW X

posi
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Feb 17 2007 08:59

dope. I'll be along also.

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Steven.
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Feb 17 2007 18:13

I couldn't make this, sorry. So what happened, what's going on?

posi
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Feb 18 2007 00:12

Me, oisleep and thebutton were there, along with 7 other activists (no noticeable trots, fwiw), one freelancer/guardian journalist and the T&G organiser (Javier).

The meeting mostly consisted of J outlining what the situation is, and roughly what's (probably) going to be happening in the next few weeks. We asked questions, and stuck our names/contact details down to be involved in future.

I won't put down here in much more detail what would be involved in supporting the campaign, but I'll PM John. now, and anyone else who asks for it. (Perhaps it would be ok to write it here, but I don't want to get shot down for getting that wrong.)

But basically, there's two sides to it: the organising/contact with workers side; and the actions, picketing, pressure side of things. For the former, there'll be an additional meeting, probably involving some training.

Everything is expected to happen in the next 3-5 weeks. Anyone who wants to get involved can PM me their e-mail address, and a phone number, and preferably some idea of the amount of time they've got, and I'll pass that on to J. Or, his number's above.

Especially for the organising side of things, people will need to be fairly on the case, be prepared to make some commitments. I don't know on what level exactly, but it's not the sort of thing that people can be flaky on.

If it goes ahead, the strike will be the first cleaners strike in the country for at least 40 years, perhaps ever. It will certainly be the first time agency cleaners have struck. The meeting wasn't a crazy load of fun, but it's political importance is obvious, as is the necessity of people getting involved. It could get very, very hot.

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EdmontonWobbly
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Feb 18 2007 00:37

Right on, good luck!

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Bubbles
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Feb 18 2007 04:21

any wobs show up?

posi
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Feb 18 2007 09:42
x357997 wrote:
any wobs show up?

No. Which I think is a shame, since this sems to be a really good example of a campaign which they could be very helpful with, and which could be really useful for them too.

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Bubbles
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Feb 18 2007 10:09
posi wrote:
x357997 wrote:
any wobs show up?

No. Which I think is a shame, since this sems to be a really good example of a campaign which they could be very helpful with, and which could be really useful for them too.

I agree.

ftony
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Feb 18 2007 12:49

it was put on the wob list by someone, but we were also picketing starbucks, and other active wobs just couldn't make it. i'm sure some of us would be up for doing whatever we can to help.

posi - could you PM me some more details please so i can let other wobs know?

good to know anarcho/libs made up about a third of the attendance though, v cool. cool

posi
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Feb 18 2007 13:32

There were at least another three anarcho types there and all, just not of your libcom extraction. I think if No Sweat hadn't been having a meeting at the same time, you probably would have had at least 3 AWL types. Will PM you now.

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Steven.
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Feb 18 2007 16:03

cheers for the updates and the PM posi, good stuff. Just one thing:

posi wrote:
If it goes ahead, the strike will be the first cleaners strike in the country for at least 40 years, perhaps ever. It will certainly be the first time agency cleaners have struck.

Neither of these is true, there have been a few in the past year even:
http://libcom.org/tags/cleaners

http://libcom.org/news/whipps-cross-strike-rentokil-310806
http://libcom.org/news/rentokil-strike-whipps-cross-hospital-150806
http://libcom.org/news/house-of-commons-cleaners-to-strike-again-0211200...

ftony
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Feb 18 2007 17:29

pwn3d!!1!1!!!!111!!

posi
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Feb 18 2007 21:14

pwn3d indeed - interesting! Come to think of it, j should have known about the house of commons one, since that was T&G as well, I assume...

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Steven.
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Feb 19 2007 01:02
posi wrote:
pwn3d indeed - interesting! Come to think of it, j should have known about the house of commons one, since that was T&G as well, I assume...

It's quite a weird thing to say full stop, I mean cleaners are involved in all kinds of strikes all the time - local government, schools, hospitals, etc... Maybe he meant tube cleaners?

Anyway, look forward to seeing how this progresses...

posi
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Feb 19 2007 10:19

Yeah, but I was assuming that it meant cleaners by themselves, as opposed to as part of a larger body or workers, mostly composed of those with much more industrial strength... which would be more plausible.

posi
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Feb 21 2007 17:30

UPDATE!

It seems that the ballot for strike has had the effect of giving cold feet to the companies. They have agreed to stop any compulsory redundancies, only volunteers and with a severance pay increased. They have also agreed that there is not going to be any increasing workload.

This means that we are not in such a hurry, but there is still a lot of work to do in order to actually change the awful terms and conditions, so if you are still up for doing a bit of volunteering for the campaign, please reply to this mail [or PM posi].

Full statement to come, on the deal.

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Steven.
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Feb 22 2007 12:17

good good

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the button
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Feb 22 2007 12:28

Often the way nowadays -- use a ballot for strike action as a bargaining chip.

It'll be interesting to see what the deal is.