Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/548/6410
Swansea rail workers
Fighting for a living wage
SIXTEEN train cleaners, members of the RMT, have been involved in a one-day strike for better pay and conditions at Swansea's High Street railway station. The cleaners are employed by ISS, a contractor for First Great Western, a company notorious for bad pay and poor conditions.
Alec Thraves spoke to RMT rep Ian Fynch on the picket line:
"At the moment our lowest-paid members are getting just £5.82 an hour, with no shift allowance. This means if they work a Sunday they only get the bare time, seven hours, which is wrong!
"We are asking for the same increase as the First Great Western workers, 5.1%, because we are doing exactly the same work as them. Swansea is the only depot out of the three Great Western depots in the country being run by ISS and wages at the other two are around £25,000 a year! These workers deserve the same because they are doing exactly the same work as those depots."
Another picket, Laurence explained the difficulties of the job: "As well as watering the trains, cleaning the mess in the toilets and mopping up vomit, we also have to put up with a lot of abuse from customers.
"One of the lads recently tried to wake up a drunken passenger who had remained on the train at Swansea. He was abused and had the passenger's dog set on him. When trains come in late we have to try and clean around passengers who have already boarded and end up getting a mouthful off them as well."
In The Socialist 17 September 2008:
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party campaigns
Labour Party conference protest
Privatisation and closure
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party review