Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/15779
Train cleaners protest across the country
Manchester and Warrington
Low-paid cleaners employed by the Carlisle company on the TransPennine Express (TPE) contract protested outside TPE's office in Manchester as part of their strike on Friday 30th November.
The cleaners work for extremely low wages often in freezing cold conditions, so much so that they said it was warmer on the 8am protest than it had been on the station last night!
Carlisle cleaners are in the RMT union and determined to achieve fair pay. The victory won through strike action by RMT members on the Virgin cleaning contract shows this is possible.
Clearly TPE are worried. While cleaners leafleted the passing public, management tried giving out a counter-leaflet to people working in the office block which TPE is part of!
Manchester cleaners were joined by colleagues from elsewhere in the north-west. There was also a protest outside Warrington Central rail station, which Adam Hemsley from Warrington Socialist Party visited and reports:
"Once again Warrington Central station was the site of TPE cleaners taking action against attacks on their pay and conditions.
Not only were they demanding safer working environments and better pay, they actively argued for the renationalisation under democratic control of our railways. Spirits were high and we saw a great reaction of support from the public".
Several cleaners in Manchester bought the socialist and joined the National Shop Stewards Network mailing list.
Hugh Caffrey, Socialist Party, Manchester.
Stratford Market, London
Striking ISS cleaners picketed the Stratford Market London Underground depot, as part of the national coordinated rail and underground cleaners' strike by RMT members across Britain - involving seven different employers - on 30 November and 1 December.
One of the pickets, Paul, spoke to Socialist Party member Bob Severn:
"The trains cannot go out without the cleaners. We do the dirtiest job. I think this is the best strike so far, well organised, well planned.
"Years back, they used to have one company [London Underground]. With one company you could have one agreement - if there's a pay rise it goes round.
"This time around you have different companies, causing chaos. Until recently, we didn't have work passes - instead we had to sign in.
"All other workers, including agency workers, had passes. But not the cleaners. So we've won an agreement there and now also have passes.
"If they can listen to us in this area, I believe they can also listen to us in other areas. Now we're getting £8.30 an hour, which is not enough after tax and all the stuff, it is nothing.
"Rent's going up every day, the bus fare, the train fare, and yet it's the same money we're earning - it's not enough.
"We have no sick pay, no pension provision, no travel expenses. If others can enjoy these benefits, why can't cleaners enjoy it? We've got families, we've got kids. Many cleaners do two, three jobs, just to make ends meet".