The RMT has announced members working on the Underground are to stage two strikes over pay.
Over 700 members working for cleaning contractors will hold their third strike between Thursday August 21 and Saturday August 23rd over ongoing demands to be paid the London Living Wage of £7.45.
Speaking after a protest at last month’s Mayor’s Question Time, Mayor of London Boris Johnson said he supported cleaners in their demands to be paid the LLW. However, according to the RMT: “only 24 hours after he made that pledge Mayor Johnson said it would apply only to cleaners in companies currently renegotiating contracts with Metronet, and that would leave workers on the ITS contract, as well as all cleaners on Tube Lines contracts still on poverty pay.”
Since collapsing last year Metronet has been taken over by Transport for London (TfL) meaning the Mayor can direct direct TfL in negotiations with staff and contractors. Tube Lines, which remains a private sector business, negotiates contracts separately and is not obliged to agree the same terms as TfL.
“It is not good enough for the Mayor to hide behind contract negotiations, for Tube Lines to pretend that what its cleaning subcontractors pay their cleaners is nothing to do with them, and for the contractors to claim that they can’t afford to pay,” RMT general secretary Bob Crow said today.
A spokesperson for TfL told MayorWatch strike action was “complete unnecessary, following the Metronet transfer three of the four subcontractors will be paying their employees who work on the tube the London Living Wage when the contracts are renewed at the end of this month.”
Maintenance Workers To Strike
The RMT also announced that 1,000 staff working for the Tube Lines consortium will strike between noon on Wednesday August 20 and noon on Saturday August 23 after rejecting an offer of a 4.95% pay rise.
The union claims the deal is “inferior” to that already agreed for staff doing identical work on Metronet. A spokesperson for Tube Lines denied this, saying he company believe “that a pay offer of 4.95% is very competitive, especially when compared with the UK average rise of 3.7%.”
The spokesperson also said the company “are disappointed the RMT is taking this stance and passengers have every right to feel angry over the proposed action.”
TfL’s spokesperson said: “We hope Tube Lines and the RMT can work together to avoid any unnecessary strike action”
Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “The nature of the tube contracts means that these maintenance workers are employed by Tubelines, and pay negotiations are carried out between the two parties.”
Echoing TfL, the Mayor said he hoped the two parties “can reach an agreement that
avoids unnecessary disruption for Londoners.”
Caroline Pidgeon, Liberal Democrat Deputy Chair of the London Assembly’s Transport Committee, said the planned strikes were “terrible news for Londoners and will achieve nothing.”
“We have seen these threats before and fortunately often the strikes are cancelled but that doesn’t stop Bob Crow from holding London to ransom again and again.”
Pidgeon also called for the Mayor “to stop following the example Ken Livingstone set in how to deal with the unions, and the RMT in particular, and stand firm with TfL and Tube Lines and confront them head on.”