cleaners are not objects to be bought and sold!

Join the protest 12 noon, Weds 18 November, Templar House, 81-87 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6NU

The cleaning contract on London Underground’s Bakerloo, Victoria and Central Lines is set to be renegotiated and a new company is expected to grab it. It is likely to demand new (and worse) conditions and will trawl again through workers’ immigration status.Cleaners, many of them migrant workers, are sick of being handed around from company to company, and continually facing poor pay and conditions. Their RMT union has called a protest in their support at the headquarters of Metronet—which is responsible for the contract. Continue reading “cleaners are not objects to be bought and sold!”

stop the union busters – victory to the rmt

Don’t scab for the bosses
Don’t listen to their lies
Poor folks ain’t got a chance
Unless they organize
Which side are you on boys?
Which side are you on?
Pete Seeger

by Chris Kane

The National Union of Rail Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) have called a 48-hour strike forJune 9th to 11th on the London Underground and Transport for London after workers voted by a huge majority to take action over pay, jobs and justice.

Transport for London is cutting 1,000 jobs, tearing up previous agreements on no compulsory redundancies. TfL are trying to impose a five year pay deal starting with a derisory 1% and for 2009 and RPI+0.5% for the next four years. This amounts to nothing more than a pay cut year after year, they refuse even to consider the RMT’s one year pay claim. Across the London Underground management have been engaged in a campaign of bullying and harassment of staff, ignoring established procedures on discipline and attendance. All this amounts to a premeditated bosses offensive against the RMT, the largest union of rail workers. The conduct of management has been nothing other than a provocation, the Tories want a fight – they have even brought in a union busting firm of consultants from The Burke Group.

This dispute is the first round of a fight with a Tory Party intent on carrying out wide scale cuts in the public sector. Whilst some sections of our movement are currently obsessed by the events of the Westminster Village they need to wake up to the reality of what is at stake in this dispute – if the strongest section of the trade union movement, both politically and industrially, suffers a defeat it will be a set back for the entire movement. Continue reading “stop the union busters – victory to the rmt”

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