Thursday, December 15, 2005

Tube Cleaners demand £6.70 an hour

The RMT organised a demonstration outside the headquarters of Transport for London to demand a minimum wage of £6.70 an hour for London Underground cleaners. Below we reproduce an RMT press release.

The RMT Cleaners’ Charter demands an immediate minimum pay rate of £6.70 an hour for cleaners working on London Underground contracts – and the union is urging Mayor Ken Livingstone and TfL to support the demand that no Tube employer should pay less.

“The Mayor quite rightly says that no-one can survive in London on wages less than £6.70 an hour, but there are more than 2,000 cleaners working on London Underground getting far less than that,” RMT general secretary Bob Crow said today.

“Research indicates that 90 percent of cleaners working on London Underground are paid less than £5.51 an hour, and that nearly 40 per cent get no more than the rock-bottom minimum wage of £5.05, while their employers are raking in millions. That is disgraceful.

“Contractors like ISS, Blue Diamond and GBM are making fat profits on Tube contracts and they are paying poverty wages to staff who work long, hard hours in difficult conditions.

“The Tube infrastructure companies are making £2 million a week out of their PPP contracts, yet they are happy to sub-contract cleaning work to companies who have raised the shameful art of exploitation to new levels.

“Eight out of ten Tube cleaners get no annual pay rise, half have never had a pay rise, more than 70 per cent are not in a pension scheme, and 60 per cent get no company sick-pay

“The time has come to put an end to these shabby practices, and today we will be handing in a letter to TfL Commissioner Bob Kiley urging him to join us in winning dignity and respect at work for London Underground cleaners.

“That means a £6.70 minimum hourly rate now, an annual pay rise, decent pensions, free Tube travel, proper overtime pay, fair sick pay and at least 20 days’ holiday,” Bob Crow said.

The RMT Cleaners’ Charter
Fair pay and conditions for cleaners on London Underground

Cleaners on the Underground deserve:
A minimum rate of £6.70 per hour, increasing to an eventual £10 per hour
An annual increase in pay
A simple career path
A decent pension
Free travel on the Tube
An additional payment for late night or weekend work
Dignity and respect at work
Clean mess rooms
Regular provision of uniform
20 days basic annual leave plus 8 bank holidays
A fair sick-pay scheme

Key findings of November 2005 Queen Mary, University of London research into low-paid employment In London

The research team interviewed low-paid workers in four sectors of the London economy: contract cleaning on London Underground (81 workers interviewed), hospitality work, home care and the food processing industry. The report was part-funded by the Greater London Authority.

The report found that 90% of the total interviewees were recent migrants.

Specifically in contract cleaning on the Underground they found:
An ethnic profile of 39% from Nigeria, 19% from Ghana, 15% from Eastern Europe
3 main employers ISS, Blue Diamond and GBM as well as 10 smaller employers
37% of workers were paid the National Minimum Wage
90% earned less than £5.51 an hour
83% of workers had no annual pay rise and one in every two had never had a pay rise
60% of cleaners who responded do not receive any more than statutory sick pay
46% of cleaners routinely worked overtime, putting in anything up to 16 hours a week and 86% of cleaners did not receive a higher rate of pay for overtime work
73% lost income if they took time off to attend emergencies
73% claimed they did not receive other benefits from employers such as maternity and paternity leave
71% did not contribute to a company pension scheme
14% of workers took no paid holidays
Some workers were made to pay for their own training before starting the job
Others had to pay a deposit of £130 for a fire safety card
Cleaners also had to pay for their own Travelcards in order to be able to move on the Underground whilst at work and then ask the employer for a reimbursement

One worker stated that he lost four hours worth of wages if he was 30 minutes late. Inadequate facilities were frequently mentioned with one respondent saying “We can’t use the mess room because there are rats in there”, another described their room as “dark and dingy”. One station had no rest room at all and staff had no option but to sit on the train platform to eat their lunch even in the winter months.

Inadequate clothing was another source of discomfort; one said “We haven’t had any new uniforms for two years. In summer we are still wearing thick jumpers in the sweltering heat. They had to give us proper work shoes because so many people were falling over, but no new trousers or t-shirts
Many said that their employers showed no concern for their welfare and typical comments were “they ignore our advice about working conditions” or “they treat us like animals”.

Cleaning Company & Infraco Profits


Global Parent Company ISS Group trading update for the period January – September 2005 measured against the same period in the previous year shows: -

16% increase in revenue to £3bn (converted from Danish Kroner)
20% increase in operating profit to £170.9m (converted from Danish Kroner)
No details are provided in this report for ISS UK, but the First Quarter report (January - March 2005) reveals that ISS UK delivered 14% of Group revenue at £132m (converted from Danish Kroner). Although the figure is not listed, we might assume that ISS UK also provides 14% of the Group’s net profit for the same period, which would be equivalent to over £4m.

ISS Group was bought for over £2bn by Goldman Sachs and EQT Partners earlier this year.

Blue Diamond

“Blue Diamond Services Ltd has won a ‘seven figure’ three-year contract from Metronet Rail to clean its 92 District, East London and Metropolitan Line stations.” Reported in RBI 17th November 2005
November 2004 Times reported that the Company’s turnover was £35m

In the same report it was also claimed that BD staff are paid above the industry average, Chief Executive Harvey Alexander said, “It’s easier to manage a well-paid, well-trained workforce than one that is underpaid and under motivated.”

Reported in The Independent on Sunday in August 2004, Mr Alexander said, “And that’s what our business is about, really – staff. If the workers do a great job, BD is doing a great job – which in turn lead to more contracts. So we want to keep our employees… we want people to be proud of working for BD and wearing its name on their sleeve.” The article claimed that BD pays 20% over the going rate as well as providing comprehensive training and a smart uniform.

GBM Support Services

Interviewed in May 2005, Director of Operations Frank Fitzgerald said, “Our only asset is our people – our operators, supervisors and managers”
GBM has been working towards Investors in People
Latest financial return for the 12mths to 31st December 2004

GBM turnover has increased every year since 1997 including by 4% in 2004 to £28.3m
Pre-tax profit increased by 12.3% to £2m in 2004
Profit margin in 2004 of 7.22%. The profit margin has not dipped below 5.7% since 2000
Post-tax profit increased by 26.7% to £1.5m in 2004
Highest paid director in 2004 received £127,000

Tube Lines

Directors’ Report and Accounts for the year ended 31st March 2005 and reported in The Times 18th August 2005:

45% increase in turnover to £864m
37% increase in profit before taxation to £57m
18% increase in the remuneration package for Chief Executive Terry Morgan to £534,000
During the year Tube Lines shareholders also received a payment of £27.5m after refinancing its £1.8bn debt facilities.

Early Day Motion tabled in the House of Commons
Living Wage for London Underground Cleaners

That this House believes the 2012 Olympic Games should allow London to demonstrate it is a city for social justice; is therefore concerned at the recent Queen Mary, University of London report which found that cleaners working on London Underground exist on poverty wages, do not receive annual pay rises, and are often required to pay for their own training; condemns cleaning sub contractors such as ISS and Blue Diamond for employing staff on such shameful conditions; and supports the RMT campaign for social justice for London Underground cleaners which includes a minimum rate of £6.70 an hour.


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