Merseyside politicians unite to slam Merseyrail’s treatment of heroic cleaners

Merseyside politicians unite to slam Merseyrail’s treatment of heroic cleaners

2 September 2021

RMT Press Office

A cross-Party coalition of Merseyside’s politicians has written an open letter to Merseyrail boss Andy Heath calling on him to step in and sort out disputes on two of its cleaning contracts and pledging to campaign for heroic cleaners and other keyworkers to be brought in-house across the region.

The open letter, signed by 7 Labour MPs, Liverpool Mayor Joanne Anderson and 49 Labour, Green, Liberal Democrat and Conservative councillors from across Merseyside, condemns Merseyrail for ‘presiding over the appalling mistreatment of this heroic workforce’ after cleaners employed by Stadler were threatened with ‘fire and rehire’ attacks on their working conditions and as cleaners employed by Mitie are engaged in a long-running dispute over poverty wages and poor working conditions.

The letter calls on Mr Heath to ‘to intervene now and resolve these disputes, which are bringing shame on the city region’ and to bring the Mitie cleaners into direct employment when the contract ends in January. The signatories also ‘pledge to campaign for the insourcing of contracts like these across our public services’.
RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said:
“Our members will welcome this fantastic support from Merseyside’s politicians and I hope Merseyrail recognise that the writing is on the wall.

“As we’ve pointed out before, they’ve done very nicely in recent years, distributing more than £150 million to their shareholders since taking up the contract, but their treatment of sub-contracted cleaners who have put their lives on the line throughout the pandemic is truly shameful.

“Outsourcing has seen the super-exploitation of low-paid essential workers in search of profit. Merseyrail need to get a grip on this situation, put their hands in their ample pockets, sort out the disputes and bring their cleaners in-house.”


Notes for editors

<Full letter to Merseyrail boss Andy Heath below>

Open letter to Andy Heath, Managing Director, Merseyrail
Dear Andy,
This pandemic has shown clearly that our cleaners perform an essential service. Not only have they put their lives on the line to come into work when others were able to stay at home, but their hard work has kept vital public services safe and kept them running.

Shamefully, your company is presiding over the appalling mistreatment of this heroic workforce. Merseyrail has outsourced the cleaning of stations to Mitie and trains to Stadler. Station cleaners are taking strike action because Mitie still refuses to pay these valuable cleaners the Real Living Wage, has cut holiday pay so that in some cases it’s below the National Minimum Wage and is imposing new working practices which worsen their work-life balance. Merseyrail’s station cleaners are among the lowest paid in the industry. Train cleaners employed by Stadler are balloting for strike action as their employer threatens to ‘fire and rehire’ them on worse contracts.

This is a disgrace and as you are the client for these contracts, it’s your responsibility. The buck stops with you.

Merseyrail has made big profits out of our city’s rail network and distributed more than £156 million out in dividends for its shareholders since taking over in 2003. Just last March, you paid your shareholders a further £3 million, even as the country reeled from the Coronavirus, while you expect your cleaners to work for poverty wages and accept more attacks on their livelihoods. The fact is that you and Mitie and Stadler can more afford to settle these disputes tomorrow if you decide to. Your Coronavirus dividend alone would pay to settle the station cleaners’ claims many times over.

We call on you to intervene now and resolve these disputes, which are bringing shame on the city region.

We also call on you to bring the station cleaners in-house when Mitie’s contract runs out in January next year. Outsourcing was always justified on the grounds that cleaning was non-core. How wrong that was. Outsourcing has led to low pay, workforce cuts and worsening service quality. It is time to roll back this failed dogma.

Finally, as Merseyside politicians we pledge to campaign for the insourcing of contracts like these across our public services. Liverpool City Council and others across the region will be debating a motion to support greater insourcing across public transport. We support that motion and believe that bringing outsourced workers in-house should be the default option wherever we have the power to do so and whenever contracts end. It’s time we built properly integrated public services with decent jobs that can support our city in meeting the growing challenges we face.

Paula Barker MP, Liverpool Wavertree (Labour)
Ian Byrne MP, Liverpool West Derby (Labour)
Dan Carden MP, Liverpool Walton (Labour)
Maria Eagle MP, Garston and Halewood (Labour)
Margaret Greenwood MP, Wirral West (Labour)
Kim Johnson MP, Liverpool Riverside (Labour)
Mick Whitley MP, Birkenhead (Labour)
Joanne Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool
Cllr Liam Robinson, Transport Portfolio Holder, Liverpool
City Region, Combined Authority
Cllr David Baines, St Helens Borough Council (Labour)
Cllr Harry Bell, Knowsley Borough Council (Labour)
Cllr Lila Bennett, Liverpool City Council (Labour)
Cllr Susan Bradshaw, Sefton Borough Council (Labour)
Cllr Robert Brennan, Sefton Borough Council (Labour)
Cllr Kris Brown, Liverpool City Council (Lib Dem)
Cllr Pat Cleary, Wirral Borough Council (Labour)
Cllr Tony Concepcion, Liverpool City Council (Labour)
Cllr Pat Cook, Knowsley Borough Council (Green)
Cllr Paul Cummins, Sefton Borough Council (Labour)
Cllr Joe Dunne, Liverpool City Council (Liberal)
Cllr Sarah Doyle, Liverpool City Council (Labour)
Cllr Gordon Friel, Sefton Borough Council (Labour)
Cllr Ron Gaffney, Knowsley Borough Council (Green)
Cllr Alan Gibbons, Liverpool City Council (Labour)
Cllr Roy Gladden, Liverpool City Council (Labour)
Cllr Roz Gladden, Liverpool City Council (Labour)
Cllr Harry Gorman, Liverpool City Council (Green)
Cllr Lucille Harvey, Liverpool City Council (Labour)
Cllr Elizabeth Hayden, Liverpool City Council (Labour)
Cllr Richard Kemp CBE, Liverpool City Council (Lib Dem)
Cllr Nina Killen, Sefton Borough Council (Labour)
Cllr Frazer Lake, Liverpool City Council (Labour)
Cllr Paulette Lappin, Sefton Borough Council (Labour)
Cllr Anthony Lavelle, Liverpool City Council (Labour)
Cllr Tomas Logan, Liverpool City Council (Labour)
Cllr Anne McCormack, Liverpool City Council (Labour)
Cllr Ken McGlashan, Knowsley Borough Council (Labour)
Cllr Clare McIntyre, Liverpool City Council (Labour)
Cllr Lindsay Melia, Liverpool City Council (Labour)
Cllr Mike Morris, Sefton Borough Council (Conservative)
Cllr Sarah Morton, Liverpool City Council (Labour)
Cllr Stephen Munby, Liverpool City Council (Labour)
Cllr Diane Roscoe, Sefton Borough Council (Labour)
Cllr Liz Parsons, Liverpool City Council (Labour)
Cllr Lena Simic, Liverpool City Council (Labour)
Cllr Nick Small, Liverpool City Council (Labour)
Cllr Anne O’Byrne, Liverpool City Council (Labour)
Cllr Anna Rothery, Liverpool City Council (Labour)
Cllr William Shortall, Liverpool City Council (Labour)
Cllr Carol Sung, Liverpool City Council (Labour)
Cllr Maria Toolan, Liverpool City Council (Labour)
Cllr Kai Taylor, Knowsley Borough Council (Green)
Cllr Alan Tormey, Liverpool City Council (Lib Dem)
Cllr David van der Burg, St Helen’s Borough Council (Green)
Cllr Jason Walsh, Wirral Borough Council (Green)
Cllr Gerard Woodhouse, Liverpool City Council (Labour)
Cllr Frances Wynn, Knowsley Borough Council (Lib Dem)

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Tagged with: Merseyrail, Cleaners