The cleaners on London Underground are taking strike action for a decent standard of living. Successful 24 hour action on the 26th of June was followed by a 48 hour strike starting on the 1st of July.
The organising Union, the RMT, has reported that there was widespread bullying of the strikers. Bob Crow said, “Reports coming in from the picket lines over the last 36 hours indicate that the employers are so desperate that they are resorting to gangster-style intimidation and using the worst sort of fear attacks to stop more people joining the strike.
“Managers have been threatening people with the sack if they join the strike and telling them that they will have sums deducted from their wages that are way above what they could have earned during the strike.”
This heroic struggle by some of the poorest paid workers in the country has been undermined by a complete ignorance on the part of the Union leadership of the working practices of the cleaners. From the start we were asking if we should be signing up agency workers and how the union intended to defend them if we did. We were told to sign them up and they would be looked after.
Three days before the strike I had agency workers telling me that they had not received ballot papers. When I enquired at Unity house I was told that they were not aware that they had agency staff as members and if they were not a part of the ballot they were not protected if they went on strike.
This has led to a situation in my area where a husband and wife team have the husband agency working and the wife on contract and on strike.
This has split the station cleaners and demoralised the agency staff, who were willing to strike for better conditions until the union admitted that they could not defend them.
Better news in the train depots where pickets are signing up new members all the time and the strikes are solid despite heavy handed tactics by bosses and agency staff being bussed in. Even here the order for drivers not to drive trains that have not been cleaned went out far too late.
Now is the time to break the law and not the poor. If we are resolute in defending the cleaners, the whole workforce should be called out in support. Now is the time to break the anti trade union laws and bring all of the Underground out in support.
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This post was written by Rick Grogan