THE RMT announced on Tuesday that its members on South Western Railway (SWR) will be holding a further 27 days of strike action in December in defence of the guard and safety on the railway.
The union is also holding a demonstration in Liverpool today as part of its campaign for Justice for Mitie Merseyrail Cleaners, demanding a real living wage for this crucial group of transport workers.
Today’s prmtest is from 16.45-18.00 outside Merseyrail, Rail House, Lord Nelson Street, Liverpool L1 1JF.
Announcing the 27 days of strike action on SWR in December, RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said on Tuesday: ‘Our members have been left with no choice but to call a further 27 days of strike action on South Western Railway.
‘At the last meeting we held with SWR, principles in agreements were made in good faith with the company’s negotiating team and we now feel hugely let down again.
‘As long as the company continues to refuse to give assurances on the future operational role of the guard we will remain in dispute.
‘I want to congratulate our members on their continued resolve in their fight for safety and the role of the guard on SWR.
‘It is wholly down to the management side that the core issue of the safety critical competencies and the role of the guard has not been agreed.
‘The union remains available for talks.’
The company’s unremitting failure to give assurances that their new operational model won’t move to Driver Controlled Operation – with the role of the guard butchered completely – means the union has been left with no alternative but to call further industrial action.
As a result of SWR’s failure to move forward on an agreement, RMT members will take action as follows:
‘We instruct our Guard, Commercial Guards and Driver members to take the following strike action:
- Not to book on for duty from 00:01 on Monday 2nd December 2019 until 23:59 on Wednesday 11th December
- Not to book on for duty from 00:01 on Friday 13th December until 23:59 on Tuesday 24th December 2019
- Not to book on duty from 00:01 on Friday 27th December 2019 until 23:59 on the 1st January 2020.’
- The RMT said on Tuesday that revelations that train companies have reneged on a pledge to eliminate the dumping of excrement on the railway by the end of this year shows that profit is more important to them than the rail workers who will continue to have to work in disgusting unsanitary conditions amongst the raw sewage.
In 2017 the Department for Transport said that by the end of 2019 all franchises would compel firms to ensure trains had modern toilets. This was also confirmed in Network Rail’s strategic business plan.
It has now emerged that several train companies have applied for exemptions.
East Midlands Trains have been given permission to continue to dump sewage on the track from fast trains running between London St Pancras to Nottingham and Sheffield.
Other companies still understood to be operating trains that dump excrement on tracks include Northern, West Midlands, ScotRail and Transport for Wales.
RMT General Secretary Cash said: ‘Our members were promised that this year would see the end of the filthy and disgusting practice of dumping raw sewage on Britain’s railways, a practice which sees track workers routinely sprayed with human excrement and fleet staff left to scrape it off the bottom of trains.
‘The pledge to end the practice was hard won by RMT and the fact that it has been reneged on shows the utter contempt that the rail companies have for rail workers.
‘The blame for this broken promise, which means the continuation of this disgraceful practice that shames Britain’s railways, lies at the door of the greedy train companies, and their reluctance to retro-fit tanks due to cost, and this government and their appalling attitude to the staff who work in the transport industry.
‘In the run-up to the general election, RMT will be making an issue of this shameful government-sanctioned practice and there will be no let-up in RMT’s campaign to bring the dumping of raw sewage on the tracks to an end as soon as possible.’
- Hundreds of essential workers employed by TfL overwhelmingly voted for strike action in a dispute over derisory pay and cuts to holidays.
TfL is trying to bulldoze through a derisory one per cent pay increase which amounts to a pay cut in real terms.
At the same time, TfL is cutting the holidays of workers in its control centre by imposing a system of counting holidays in hours instead of days, which has the effect of slashing the workers’ holiday entitlement by five days.
In contrast, Gareth Powell, TfL managing director of surface transport was paid £305,649, a 10 per cent increase on his previous year’s salary, as well as receiving performance-related pay worth £50,648.
Unite regional officer, Simon McCartney said: ‘TfL bosses on six figure salaries need to rethink their decision to impose a real-terms pay cut on workers and to slash holidays. Unless TfL get serious about resolving this dispute, the streets of London face considerable disruption in the run-up to the holiday season.
‘TfL staff employed in its control centre are the eyes and ears of the capital. They are having their holidays slashed by TfL bosses for no good reason.
‘These workers play a crucial role ensuring London’s roads run smoothly. Without these workers parts of London could become gridlocked.
‘Revenue prmtection inspectors, road transport enforcement officers and compliance officers do crucial work to prmtect the travelling public and to recover lost revenue for TfL.
‘The workers are regularly abused and threatened, and workers have been assaulted while carrying out their duties.
‘They have become sick and tired of the lack of support they receive from management but TfL’s decision to impose one per cent pay was the last straw and now they are fighting back.’
Regarding today’s demonstration in Liverpool, RMT activists and supporters will make the case against poverty pay for a group of crucial staff who do some of the dirtiest jobs on our railways.
Merseyrail outsourced station cleaning and maintenance a number of years ago, the work is currently undertaken by Mitie Facilities Management, part of the Mitie Group plc.
Mitie Group paid nearly £49 million to its shareholders in dividends in the last five years. But it won’t pay its cleaners the Real Living Wage.
In addition Merseyrail latest profit is £16M, and just £70k would fund the Real Living Wage just 0.004% of the profit level.
A recent survey carried out by RMT of Mitie workers came back with 50% of respondents saying they struggled to make ends meet.
The union believes that Merseyrail should not be allowing its contractors to pay poverty wages and that these workers should be bought back in-house.
RMT General Secretary Cash said: ‘RMT’s campaign demanding a Real Living Wage for Mitie Cleaners is gaining momentum with political and public support continuing to roll in. We are determined to fight for pay and workplace justice, it is time for Mitie and Merseyrail to end this disgraceful exploitation and take urgent action.
‘It is a scandal that the staff employed by outsourcing giant Mitie who clean stations for Merseyrail, doing some of the dirtiest work in the rail industry at all hours of the night and day, are struggling to make ends meet.
‘A company that can pay nearly £49 million to its shareholders in dividends in the last five years for doing nothing can afford a tiny fraction of that to pay its cleaners a decent wage for the work that they do.
‘Merseyrail needs to take urgent action to facilitate payment of the Real Living Wage.
‘RMT welcomes the recent support of the Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram, who recognises that these cleaners should be paid at least the Real Living Wage, and we now call on Merseyrail and Mitie to sort this scandal out and end poverty pay.
‘Mitie’s cleaners have had enough and are fighting for a Real Living Wage currently set at £9.00 an hour outside London.
‘To do this, they need the help of all the passengers and I urge everyone to support our members and do all they can to make these wealthy companies do the right thing now and pay its workers a Real Living Wage.
‘RMT repeats its call for the these workers to be brought back in house.’