MEMBERS OF rail union RMT working for sub-contractors Mitie on First Great Western will strike again for 24 hours from Friday morning in a fight for a Living Wage and workplace justice as it emerged that the company chief presiding over the culture of low pay and zero hours contracts has raked in £1.37 million.
As the union ratchets up what is seen as a set-piece battle with implications for hundreds of thousands of British cleaners on poverty pay and zero hours contracts, FGW Mitie members have been instructed not to book on for any shifts between:-
• 06:00 hours on Friday 25th October 2013 and 05:59 hours on Saturday 26th October 2013.
The anger amongst the workforce has been heightened as it emerged that Mitie, one of the Government’s favourite facilities management companies, have been making a fortune off the backs of their low paid staff.
The most recent company accounts show that Mitie Group PLC for the year 2012-13 made pre-tax profits of £58.8m, paid out dividends to shareholders of £20.6m (a 11.9% increase) with the highest paid director pocketing £1.374m (a 7.4% increase).
The latest phase of action by Mitie/FGW staff follows a rock-solid 24 hour strike which kicked off on the morning of the 11th October and which saw pickets out in force at key locations across the franchise with a major, high profile protest at London’s Paddington station. A schedule of pickets, protests and public leafleting has been set up for this Friday.
The matters at the heart of the dispute are simple – the fight for pay and workplace justice for the lowest paid groups of staff on the lucrative First Great Western service and an end to the poison of zero hours contracts. The strike comes against the backdrop of First themselves being awarded a massive, multi-million pound two year extension of their contract which nails the lie that there is no money available to pay their cleaners a living wage on secure contracts with decent working conditions.
Mitie – the Government’s favoured “facilities management” contractors, are renowned for trying to keep a low profile while swallowing up public “facilities” contracts that make them a fortune off the backs of thousands of low paid, casualised workers. Fresh from winning a 20% pay increase for cleaners on the North East’s Metro service in similar circumstances, RMT is geared up to take Mitie on and to expose the company and the huge sums they are making off the back of a culture of poverty pay and job insecurity.
RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:
“As it emerges that the Mitie boardroom is awash with cash made off the back of the low-paid workforce there is no doubt that both staff and public anger will be raised to new heights. On Friday, RMT will be handing out tens of thousands of leaflets to FGW passengers asking them to email the company in support of the cleaners who do some of the dirtiest jobs on the network for some of the lowest wages.
“ Mitie RMT members on First Great Western have shown guts and determination throughout this long fight for workplace and pay justice and we expect strong support from across the labour movement as we move into this second phase of industrial action. Mitie are key players in the driving down on wages and working conditions for some of the lowest paid workers in Britain and it is time we all stood together to take them on and expose them, and their supporters in the Government and the rail companies, for just what they are – greedy opportunists making a fast buck out of public contracts at their workers’ expense.
“First Group landed a jackpot rollover with a two year contract extension on Great Western that will make them and their sub-contractors a fortune but while the boardrooms are awash with cash, exploitation at the sharp end on this prestige, inter-city rail contract is rife. Justice says that now is the time for the cleaners out there day and night on Mitie/First Great Western to get their fair share through a Living Wage, decent sick pay and benefits and an end to the evil of zero hours contracts.”