Rock solid support for strike action as cleaners step up fight for living wage on prestige East Coast mainline
TRANSPORT CLEANERS working for cheapskate contractors ISS on the prestige East Coast Mainline began 24 hours of rock solid strike action at midnight as RMT steps up the fight for pay justice for cleaners across the transport sector.
In support of the pay justice campaign two major RMT demonstrations also took place this morning – one at London’s Kings Cross and another in York, which also saw a protest as the HQ of the East Coast company demanding they intervene with their contractors to secure the living wage.
The facts behind the dispute are simple.
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. Compare this to gross pay of just £267 a week for a cleaner for a forty hour week, on an hourly rate of £6.67 outside of London compared to the current designated living wage of £7.45.
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.
RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:
“Our ISS/East Coast members have been rock-solid in their action today, and in RMT’s high-profile protests in York and London, as they react to the company’s campaign of stalling and provocation that has forced this latest strike. 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 determination and solidarity shown by RMT cleaners sends out a message that the union is well prepared to step up the 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. In light of today’s action it is now down to ISS to sit down and work out a solution with us that tackles the evil of poverty pay.”