12 August 2014
RMT Press Office
Cleaners working on the St Pancras station and Eurostar contracts for high-profile facilities company Interserve will be striking again this week for forty eight hours in a fight over massive job cuts and workplace justice.
The cleaner’s will be taking the following action;
Not to book on for any shifts between 05:00 hours on Friday 15th August 2014 and 04:59 hours on Sunday 17th August 2014
This is the second phase of strike action following a rock-solid and determined walk out on Friday 1st August which was marked by a large, angry and noisy picket line right outside the main entrance to the Eurostar terminal building.
Like many contract cleaners, the Eurostar contract is subject to regular tender with cut-throat cleaning contractors competing to win the work. Staff get transferred from one contractor to another like pieces of meat, but the business model of the companies is all the same – hacking back on pay and conditions to maximise profit while offering the workforce as little as possible.
Interserve won the St Pancras/Eurostar contract from Network Rail in exactly this fashion - through a massive cut in the price for the work. In order to protect the company profits and hand-outs to shareholders Interserve have imposed 30% job cuts on their cleaning workers. This means massive pressure on the staff making up for the people who have been cut.
Staff are also sick of the workplace culture - continual aggression and bullying from the employers who expect the same standards of work and output, but with a third less staff. As RMT says “They call it efficiency – we call it harassment.”
As a result staff have had enough and are making a stand by taking a further 48 hours of strike action from 5am on Friday. The workforce already suffer from low pay, no sick pay and get only the statutory minimum from our employer, but they are not prepared to be intimidated anymore. The workloads that Interserve is imposing are too much and will not be tolerated in the culture of bullying and harassment that is rife at the prestigious Eurostar, St Pancras International terminal.
The RMT union demands are simple:
• An agreement with our union on staffing levels at St Pancras/Eurostar;
• A fair and reasonable workload for cleaners at St Pancras/Eurostar;
• To be treated with dignity and respect.
Mick Cash, RMT acting general secretary said.
“Our members working for Interserve on the Eurostar and St Pancras have already delivered one rock solid and determined 24 hours strike in their action to halt the job cuts and in their demand workplace justice but the company still refuse to listen and so a further 48 hours of action will start on Friday morning.
“On the concourse at St Pancras a glass of wine at the Champagne Bar can cost up to £30 with a bottle ranging anything up to a grand and yet the people who clean up the mess left behind are subjected to threats of job cuts, a culture of bullying and intimidation and working conditions that are simply disgusting. That is a disgusting stain on London’s reputation as a world-class city and highlights the shadey and dangerous world that those who keep London clean are forced by greed and bullying to inhabit while ostentatious wealth is paraded all around them.
“RMT will not tolerate a situation where these cleaners are kicked from pillar to post behind closed doors and on Friday their fight for pay and workplace justice will spill out onto the streets around this station and will be the first thing that many visitors to London will see on their arrival.
“RMT remains available for talks aimed at resolving this shocking injustice which is another example of the gap between rich and poor in this wealthy City.”