Support Tube Cleaners' Strike

Message received from Justice for Cleaners (T&GWU):

The cleaners in London Underground have been campaigning for over a year for a living wage and fair terms and conditions. It has been a very difficult fight for two reasons: the complex web of public private subcontracting in the Tube, and the vulnerability of exploited migrant labour. We are still a long way to go to see this 99.9% African migrant workforce treated with dignity and respect. Now Tube cleaners find themselves facing massive cuts in numbers because the reasons above mean that the profiteers running our "public transport" think they can get away with anything. Over 200 cleaning jobs are going to disappear in order to save private infrastructure consortium Tubelines around £4 million, allegedly without any lowering of cleaning standards.

This amazing feat of cutting so much money without any effects is only possible in the fairy world of Tube PPP. What they mean is that there will not be a drop in their measurements of cleanliness, which are based on customer satisfaction surveys carried out by "mystery shoppers". The consequences of this flawed system is that anything not visible to the naked eye, such as microbes, do not count towards the financial carrots and sticks that underpin the PPP.This is bad news for both Londoners and Tube cleaners, who see their demands slip further away while their workload increases, and of course no mention of a pay rise. It also means that other Tube companies will try to achieve similar savings in this and other fields where there are holes in the PPP contracts.

Facing this situation the cleaners affected, who work for the contractor ISS in the Jubilee, Piccadilly and Northern Lines, are balloting for strike. But this is not going to be an easy fight, and we will need all the support we can get.We call on labour activists, community campaigners, migrant supporters, and generally all who care about social justice to volunteer time for the campaign. It can be as much or as little as you can. We need:

- Help with a very complex balloting process and strike covering over 150 work sites all over London, in shifts 24/7. A majority of the workers need a second job to survive, so they have little time, and many live in fear due to the anti-migrant rhetoric that surrounds them. There are only 3-4 weeks for this, so it is really urgent to start in time.
- Everyone to come to actions to put pressure on the institutions involved: ISS cleaning, Tubelines, AMEY (owners of Tubelines), London Underground, Transport for London and the GLA. The actions will have clear guidelines and stewardship to make sure they are inclusive and everyone is safe.
- Supporters with stable migration status to carry actions to raise the public profile of the campaign, and picketing of key stations and depots during the strike, which may be dangerous for vulnerable migrants.We have hesitated for a long time in asking for help from activists, because the ultimate goal is to build a union of migrant cleaners and excessive early involvement of experienced UK activists can develop the wrong sort of relations. However, we now feel that the campaign is ready for help that will prop rather than supplant workers' self-emancipation. This is not a charity.

Please, come to the first public meeting where we will explain the campaign in detail and start forming support working groups. We will provide adequate training and will try to cover in as much as possible the expenses incurred. The meeting takes place on Saturday 17th February at 14:30, Transport House, 128 Theobalds Road London WC1X 8TN (Holborn Tube).