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Publication Date: December 21 2012
RMT has produced the "Christmas Hampers" for all Councillors who are members of the Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Authority (the overwhelming majority of them Labour). The hampers are in re-cycled boxes donated by a sympathetic pub and will contain nothing except a personal letter to each member of the ITA urging them to make their New Year’s resolution to End Poverty Pay for Churchill Cleaners on Tyne and Wear Metro .
The hampers will arrive at the Councillors houses this morning and a hamper will also be posted to cleaning contractor’s Churchill's Gateshead Office for their management team and to Richard McClean at DB Regio who operate the Metro system on behalf of NEXUS.
On Monday 24th December 2012 the cleaners’ picket line will be outside Newcastle Central between 9am and 10.45am - this will be followed by an improvised "soup kitchen" being set up outside the Nexus Head Office, St James Boulevard, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Powdered soup, stale plain bread, will be served in plastic cups from flasks - to get everyone in the Churchill Christmas spirit of good old Scrooges- RMT staff reps will also deliver a special empty hamper to the front door of the building for Nexus Boss Bernard Garner.
The cleaners will strike as follows:
The latest phase of action follows rock solid support for previous days of strikes in the dispute over continuing and long-running attempts by the company to impose poverty pay and cuts to standards of living.
Despite extensive talks and pressure from the union Churchill’s, following discussions with their client DB Regio, have continued to offer no increase in basic pay whatsoever even though the company has doubled its profits in the past five years and has extracted nearly £7 million from the exploitation of essential cleaning staff on the most basic pay and conditions including no sick pay, no pensions and none of the travel concessions rights enjoyed by other NEXUS workers. The company appear to be proud of their skin-flint, Scrooge mentaility.
But, while the company is trying to enshrine poverty pay amongst the staff who deliver vast returns for the shareholders, its own highest paid director has had a salary increase of more than 18% in the last 5 years to nearly £160,000 making a nonsense of their claims that they can’t afford a decent offer to the front-line cleaning staff and leaving the company top brass stuffed full of festive luxuries while their staff face another New Year of poverty.
RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:
“In this season of goodwill RMT is turning the pressure on the gang of Scrooge-like profiteers who run Churchill’s to end the scandal of poverty pay. We also want the transport authority, and particularly its Labour members, to start taking some responsibility for the low-pay outrage in their back yard.
“RMT members have shown guts and determination through a long and hard campaign this year of rock-solid strike action in the fight for workplace and pay justice. This battle is now seen as having national significance in the campaign against low pay and exploitation by greedy companies and RMT will continue to ratchet up the pressure for fairness for this important group of North East transport staff as part of our national cleaners’ campaign.
“It remains a scandal that the regional passenger organisation NEXUS, and the operating company DB Regio, have still not lifted a finger to stop this exploitation and poverty pay scandal on their own doorstep and RMT has no intention of letting them off the hook. NEXUS and the City council cannot wash their hands of this dispute and RMT is stepping up the call for them to intervene with Churchill’s to help force a solution.”