Cleaners strike again for living wage

24 July 2013

TRANSPORT CLEANERS working for cheapskate contractors ISS on the prestige East Coast Mainline will be taking a further wave of strike action this week as RMT steps up the fight for justice for staff working on transport cleaning contracts.

Members are instructed NOT TO BOOK ON for any turns of duty between:-

  • 00:01 hours and 23:59 hours on Friday 26th July 2013

Members are also instructed to take the following industrial action short of strike action as outlined below:-

  • Not to work any overtime and not agreeing to any shift movement between the hours of 00:01 and 23:59 hours on Friday 26th July 2013

The facts behind the dispute are simple.

RMT has been campaigning for the ISS cleaners on the East Coast to receive the Living Wage and for improvements to their working conditions and pensions that match the important job they do maintaining the environment on the busy, high profile East Coast Mainline.

Previous rounds of rock-solid industrial action have forced the company to the negotiating table but, despite the best efforts of the union, ISS have resorted to stalling and to operating divisive tactics that would see some staff actually taking a further hit on their wages rather than the levelling up to decent rates for all, which is what the union expects.

The company have promised a “road map” to achieving the living wage, however, this process has now been stalled with the company looking to drag out the process for at least four years making a nonsense of the objective of eliminating poverty pay.

Now, ISS have thrown in the bombshell demand that some cleaning staff who transferred over to ISS on old GNER contracts, and who benefitted from better terms and conditions, should take a hit on their pay to help finance improvements for others, as opposed to the logical objective of levelling all the cleaners up to a fair and living wage. RMT has completely rejected this penny-pinching and divisive approach which has done nothing other than increase the anger amongst the staff.

ISS is a wealthy company, it has no grounds for pleading poverty or for exploiting its own workers. In the year to 31 December 2011 ISS (UK) Limited’s pre-tax profit was £7.543 million. Despite this healthy income, the company has paid only limited amounts of corporation tax. Over the last ten years the company has paid an average of just £41,400 a year in corporation tax.

Instead, the profit generated by the workers has been diverted to shareholders. For the past five reported years, ISS (UK) Ltd has paid an average of over £5 million per year in dividends to shareholders.

ISS (UK) Ltd is a loaded with cash. Even after deducting for its liabilities, it had total assets of over £129 million. The directors also continue to be highly rewarded. As a group they received £2.265 million in remuneration, up from £2.115 million the year before – a rise of over 7%. And the highest paid director alone received £620,000.

ISS say in their statement of values:

Walking the walk

At ISS, our values are the foundation to everything we do. From how we work with our customers. To the way we treat our people. Staying true to our values means more than doing our best for you.”

RMT says it’s about time they did “walk the walk” on how they treat their people on the East Coast contract.

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:

“It is appalling that instead of implementing their own “values” statement and tackling the evil of poverty pay through the introduction of the living wage, ISS have instead resorted to a campaign of stalling and have resorted to the divisive measure of picking the pockets of another group of cleaners to scrape up a few quid towards an increase for the rest. It’s disgraceful behaviour by this global brand where the boardroom is awash with cash and millions is being siphoned off by shareholders that could easily pay the living wage to the East Coast cleaners.

“The rock-solid solidarity shown by RMT cleaners on previous strike days sends out a message that the union is geared up for an all-out fight for cleaners’ pay justice at ISS on the East Coast and across the transport network. The train operators should be using their clout to force ISS back to the negotiating table to get this dispute resolved.”


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