MORE than 50 members of the RMT rail union demonstrated outside the headquarters of Network Rail at Euston yesterday morning, before picketing the Association of Train Operating Companies in central London against ‘abysmal’ pay for train cleaners.
Demanding ‘fair pay, dignity and respect’ for cleaners on the railways, the union said every day is Christmas Day for the rail privateers, who receive a ‘regular delivery of taxpayers’ and passengers’ money’, whilst the cleaners live on poverty pay and don’t even receive travel passes.
RMT President Tony Donaghey told News Line: ‘We’re here to draw the public’s attention and also to protest against the abysmal rates of pay that cleaners, our cleaners in particular – members of our union – receive.
‘And we want to align ourselves with the protest that’s going on at this time against the highly exploitative way cleaners are being treated.
‘We want to draw the attention of the public to the fact that, whilst there are these rich employers who are saying that these cleaners are not directly employed by them, they are routinely squeezing the sub-contractors who are treating the cleaners in the appalling way that they are doing.
‘Some of our members have not had a pay rise for four years.
‘And they have very poor working conditions – no pension, no holidays, no paid Christmas breaks, in many cases.
‘Safety is also not very good and it’s the general conditions these workers have got to deal with that we’re demonstrating about.
‘We want a minimum of £7.05 an hour for our members – the minimum rate that Mayor Livingstone says is required to live in London and the South-East.
Kenneth Charles, an RMT rep on London Underground, told News Line: ‘I work at Piccadilly Circus and I remember the days when cleaners were part of London Underground.
‘As well as being poorly paid, they have no travel allowance.
‘In other words, they have no free pass, even though they clean the trains and stations every day.
‘They do a fair job and they must be rewarded.’
He added: ‘I think rail workers have had enough.
‘I’ve even known of cleaners who have been given penalty fairs as they travel between stations, whilst they are at work.’