Tube cleaners shafted by Blue Diamond

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.

Metronet cancelled the multi-million pound contract after an investigation by the Transport and General Workers' Union.

Rentokil Initial is expected to take over the contract on Friday together with the 400 cleaners, many of whom are graduates from Ghana and Nigeria.

It is the first time in 20 years that a contract has been ended due to concerns over the abuse of workers.

TGWU deputy general secretary Jack Dromey said Blue Diamond's treatment of its workers was "shameful".

"Blue Diamond robbed the cleaners, ripping thousands of pounds off hard-working men and women who serve Londoners 24 hours a day.

"Metronet have done the decent thing, acting promptly and properly to terminate the contract. The T&G is determined to end the often shameful treatment of cleaners. In London many are migrant workers. This decision demonstrates that contractors who behave badly will no longer be employed by responsible client companies.

"Blue Diamond did the dirty on cleaners and is paying the price."