London Overground cleaners picket HQ in Swiss Cottage demanding pay and holiday be restored by contractor Vinci
PUBLISHED: 18:03 05 April 2019 | UPDATED: 18:21 05 April 2019
Cleaners for the London Overground protested to demand a living wage outside Arriva Rail London’s headquarters in Finchley Road on Friday.
More than 40 cleaners and their union RMT chanted: “Low pay? No way,” outside Overground House as they complained about wages and holiday being cut under their contract with Vinci Facilities.
RMT union representatives said the cleaners were being exploited and called on Sadiq Khan to apply pressure on operator Arriva to bring their pay back to the level it was under the previous contractor, Carillion, before it went bust at the start of last year.
Derrick Marr, who is on the national executive committee for RMT, said: “The mayor’s office should get in there and stick the boot in to Arriva and say: ‘Look, you’ve got to respect the cleaners and put some money into the contract.’”
The cleaners are demanding an 80p pay rise to £11 an hour, to bring their wages above the London Living Wage of £10.55 an hour.
They are also seeking to have their leave and terms and conditions restored to the levels they had under Carillion.
A few commuters passing through Swiss Cottage gave a thumbs-up to the protestors as they rushed off to work but wouldn’t stop to comment.
RMT members said that privatisation and their contract being shuffled from one firm to another resulted in the cleaners being exploited.
Mr Marr said: “When a company undercuts the contract and goes broke like Carillion did, these guys are the ones that suffer.”
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “Vinci overseen by London Overground – and, to be fair, the people who call the tune are Sadiq Khan and the [office of the] mayor of London – have allowed exploitation of low paid workers as a result of the collapse of Carillion, and we want justice for these workers.
“We want them to be in a place where they get back their sick pay, their leave, and have a decent inflation-proof pay rise this year, and we’re going to fight until we get there.”
One protestor told this newspaper he has been cleaning trains for 15 years, and this is the first time he’s ever gone on strike.
He said: “It’s a sad situation that I’ve been working for 15 years as a cleaner and now I have to take a pay cut.”
Carol Foster, a retired RMT member, was there to fight for the cleaners to get the same support she received when she retired eight years ago.
She said: “The way they treat them is terrible.
“I want cleaners and all other workers to have a safe and secure pension, which is what I’ve got.”
Rory O’Neill, TfL’s general manager for London Overground, said: “This issue is between the RMT union and Vinci Facilities, who are contracted to provide cleaning staff on London Overground, and we urge the two parties to resolve this dispute.
“There was a comprehensive plan in place to minimise the impact on our customers.”
Arriva Rail London – part of Deutsche Bahn subsidiary Arriva – won a contract from TfL in 2016 to run London Overground until 2024.
Vinci and the mayor of London’s office have been contacted for comment.