stop union-busting of rmt cleaners: defend clara osagiede

by Chris Kane

The campaign to bust the rail workers’ union RMT amongst the cleaners on the London Underground has taken a further turn for the worse, with the possible dismissal of Cleaners Grade Secretary Clara Osagiede.  Clara is facing trumped up charges ‘of gross misconduct’ by the cleaning company ISS, whose bosses have not hidden their desire to break the union.

Clara has been a breath of fresh air in the labour movement in London and an inspiration to many workers.  She was at the forefront of organising the cleaners and played a leading role in the pioneering strikes in July 2008 across the London Underground to secure the living wage.  Despite agreeing to the RMT claim, contractors have been dragging their feet in implementing the agreement.  Worse is that since the strike ended there has been a systematic campaign of harassment and victimisation of RMT tube cleaners working for ISS, ITS, ICS and GBM, private contractors on the London Underground.   Over fifty cleaners have been sacked by bosses under the pretext of checking National Insurance numbers, two RMT have been sacked and several deported under racist immigration laws.

The attacks on RMT cleaners on London Underground have been the biggest single victimisation of trade unionists in British industry in many years. Clara was at the forefront of winning RMT (LUL) London Regional Committee to agreeing a policy that it should mount a campaign against these victimisations in September 2008.

Clearly that policy needs putting into practice, as was done in the case of the victimised rep Andy Littlechild, the victimised safety rep in Metronet, where the RMT responded with an immediate ballot for industrial action.  Historically the RMT has a record second to none in defence of victimised reps including wildcat strikes.  RMT, ASLEF and TSSA members, especially at Hainault where Clara is employed, need to urgently discuss what action they can take to defend this leading member of the union.  Members who work directly for LUL need to recognise that the victimisation of Clara is an attack on the entire union. This was not fully appreciated during the strike in July and the bosses have felt confident to continue the victimisations ever since.  It is time to say: enough is enough

There will be a demonstration in support of Clara and the RMT on the day of her disciplinary hearing: The Commune calls on our readers to mobilise for the demonstration:

Thursday 8th January
8 AM Meet for demonstration at Hainault Station
10 AM  Meet at WHSmith London Bridge, (inside the station)
11 AM Assemble at the ISS Office at 15 Park Vista, Greenwich