15 June 2020
RMT Press Office:
On International Justice Day for Cleaners and Security Guards, RMT calls for an end to outsourcing on the railways
RMT today called on the government to use its power to promote an in-sourcing revolution on the railways as the union joined in International Justice Day for Cleaners and Security Guards.
As a new report from the TUC shows, while the Covid-19 crisis has illuminated that cleaning is essential work, it’s also one of the most outsourced sectors of the economy and is associated with lower pay and insecure employment.
Outsourcing of cleaning is rampant across the rail network with Train Operating Companies sub-contracting out the ‘turnaround’ and ‘deep cleaning’ of trains as well as the cleaning of stations, often to the same outsourcing companies that dominate cleaning in other sectors.
Cleaning has also been sub-contracted to outsourcing companies by public authorities like Network Rail and Transport for London, whose 2,000 Underground cleaners are outsourced to US giant ABM.
In a recently published report, RMT revealed the cost of outsourcing for the cleaners who are putting their lives on the line every day to clean the Underground and make it safe to travel on:
• More than one in three cleaners said they had been treated unfairly at work or by their employer because of a characteristic they have (such as race, religion, gender, age, or sexual orientation)
• 68% said they believed their employer put profits before working conditions or passenger concerns
• 68% said that they sometimes or regularly struggle to make ends meet;
• 76% said that they believed passengers would benefit more if their jobs were brought in-house;
• 91% said they would rather be employed in-house.
The union called on the Mayor of London to show a lead by committing to bring these cleaners in-house when the contract ends in 2022.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said:
“The penny is dropping that the rampant outsourcing of our cleaners is a massive problem.
“ For decades, cleaners have been called ‘non-core’, non-essential workers and outsourced on that basis, condemned to low pay and insecurity. Well now, we’re seeing the cost of that folly.
“Cleaners are and always were essential workers, integral to the running of our railways, asked to put their lives on the line during a global pandemic but treated like second class citizens.
“The government should use its clout on the railways to throw this failed experiment into reverse and people like Sadiq Khan, who has the power to bring 2,000 Underground cleaners in house when ABM’s contract ends in 2022, should show a lead and make that commitment today. Praise and warm words are easy but real justice takes action.”