Cleaners strike over pay and conditions on London Underground and Docklands Light Railway.
This morning saw the beginning of a 48-hour strike by cleaners on London Underground (LU), and cleaners and security staff on the Docklands Light Railway (DLR). The RMT members on strike come from several different contracted companies; ISS, Initial, and Carlisle Cleaning & Support Services.
Over 100 supporters and picketers were in attendance outside Stratford station, in support of the strike, just a few minutes walk from the Olympic Park and Stadium. Unsurprisingly, police and security presence near the station was high but the protest was loud and very visible with passers-by stopping to talk to picketers about the action.
There were a few heated exchanges between picketers and Olympic fans, though as many seemed supportive of the cleaners as dismissive.
The cleaners are demanding:
- free travel on networks they clean
- a 35-hour week with no pay-loss
- Olympic bonus of £500
- pension and sick-pay
- direct employment and an end to contracting
- living wage of £10 per hour at entry-level
- pay increase year on year
Strikers made the point that with over 1 million additional passengers during the Olympics, their workload will increase significantly and they are not being compensated accordingly. All this while MPs and company bosses receive free tickets and five star treatment. RMT general secretary, Bob Crow said:
"On the opening day of the Games the many millions enjoying the events around the globe must not forget the London transport cleaners on minimum pay rates doing some of the dirtiest jobs in often appalling conditions with no Olympics recognition and reward whatsoever. The Olympics has to be about equality, inclusiveness and social justice and that's what our cleaners are standing up for on this great day for London."
The protest remained noisy throughout, with noise subsiding briefly for speakers from the RMT, cleaners, and a short performance by The Ruby Kid.
The strike continues until Sunday morning.