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.
This week there was an escalation in the long running dispute betweeen cleaners, porters and switchboard staff, and their private employers at Whipps Cross Hospital in East London.
By yesterday lunchtime approximately forty workers were on the picket line for the first of three days of strike action involving around 200 members of staff, members of Unison. They are striking to gain "Agenda for Change" levels of wages, agreed three years ago but ignored by Rentokil Initial since they were due to come into force earlier this year.
Porters, cleaners and switchboard staff employed by Rentokil Initial, based at Whipps Cross Hospital in East London, have been on strike since 21st July.
An agreement over pay and conditions was made in 2003, due to come into force in April 2006, several other East London hospitals agreed to the deal, only Rentokil at Whipps Cross has failed to honour it. The pay award is roughly equivalent to a £2 per hour raise, for staff who in some cases earn as little as £5.52 per hour, the agreement also included increases in leave entitlement.
A £20 million contract to clean London Underground stations has been terminated after it was revealed hundreds of cleaners had been underpaid.
Blue Diamond, Britain's largest independent cleaning firm, had been paying about 400 workers £5.05 per hour instead of the agreed £5.50. The three year contract, which started in October last year, was for cleaning the District, Circle, Metropolitan, Hammersmith and City and East London lines.
Two FTSE 100 companies have followed the example of Rentokil in closing their final salary pension schemes, with another likely to follow.
Chiefs at the Co-operative group have expressed surprise as unions have threatened strike action after they announced the closure of their scheme.
The retail and banking group has said it will change the basis for payments on its pension scheme from 5th April to an average salary system rather than linking it to final-year pay.
Trades unions will need to "step up" their defence of pension schemes in the coming year, the TUC leader has said.
Brendan Barber said in his New Year message that tough choices were needed to deal with the "looming crisis".
He said Britain had gone backwards in its pension provision as some employers abandoned their responsibilities.
Mr Barber said only one in four private sector employees was now a member of a good occupational pension scheme and that the downward trend would continue.