Cleaners step up fight for living wage with strike on East Coast

Published on Thursday, 12 September 2013 13:05
Written by Vicki Mitchem

Cleaners working for cheapskate contractors ISS on the prestige East Coast Mainline will be taking a further wave of strike action next monday as RMT steps up the fight for pay justice for cleaners in the transport sector.

Members on the ISS East Coast contract have been instructed NOT TO BOOK ON for any turns of duty between 00:01 hours and 23:59 hours on Monday 16th September 2013.

In support of the pay justice campaign two RMT demonstrations will be taking place backing up the strike action.

There will be a protest at York station at 09:30 on Monday 16th September 2013. The demonstration will proceed to the offices of East Coast in all-out effort to bring pressure on the company to settle this on-going dispute and to end the pretence that East Coast can stand idly by and tell the world that that the dispute is not their concern.

The second demonstration will take place on the same day at Kings Cross at 08:00.

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.

However, despite efforts by RMT to force the issue, including rounds of previous rock-solid action, the company remain entrenched and have chosen to adopt an aggressively hostile attitude that has led to this weekend's action.

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 provocation that has forced this weekend's latest wave of action. It is 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 remains 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. That is the message that we will be taking to the East Coast offices on Monday."

Source: RMT

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