29 August 2014
RMT Press Office
Tube cleaners to be balloted for strike action over “degrading and bullying” fingerprinting checks
Tube Union RMT today confirmed that underground cleaners working for ISS are to be balloted for strike action and action short of a strike over outrageous attempts to force them to be subjected to finger-printing on a daily basis.
The cleaners have been in a long-running dispute over the attempt to enforce the fingerprint sign-in system which has led to staff being intimidated, bullied and locked out of the workplace as they refuse to comply with a move that is threatening, degrading and carries all the overtones of a Police State.
Since ISS imposed the machines in July a substantial number of RMT members and representatives have stood firm and refused to use the new system. Despite offering to use the established method of signing in, the company has refused to let them work their duties and has locked them out. RMT does not believe it is any coincidence that many of those that have been locked out are accredited RMT reps. They have had the guts to refuse to be bullied by ISS and have suffered significant financial hardship though standing up for their principles in the face of outrageous intimidation by this anti-union company.
RMT has now confirmed to ISS that we are balloting all ISS LU contract members for strike action and industrial action short of a strike with voting papers being sent out from Wednesday 3rd September 2014 . The union is calling for an overwhelming “Yes” vote to send a clear message to ISS that staff will not tolerate the invasion of our members civil liberties and the locking out of victimised staff and reps.
Recently, RMT exposed the shocking working conditions of tube cleaners being told to book on for shifts by fingerprint in filthy, rat-infested cupboards used to store the stinking waste collected from the London Underground network. The pictures and video obtained by RMT, below and attached, show that the only facilities available to staff, doing some of the dirtiest jobs on the underground, are dirty and hazardous cupboards overflowing with waste with a fingerprinting machine fixed to the wall. The working conditions, along with the daily fingerprinting, sum up the ISS attitude to its workers in a city where extreme wealth exists alongside the most appalling and degrading exploitation.
RMT Acting General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“We have been in dispute with ISS on London Underground for over a year because we firmly believe that the daily fingerprinting of staff is a breach of our members civil liberties.
“It is simply not acceptable for an employer to bully, intimidate and harass staff into giving their Biometric “fingerprint” data to allow them to work their shift. As far as we are concerned, the system should be scrapped immediately and they should return to the agreed booking on system of signing in at the station and using the Autophone to notify ISS.
“As RMT has exposed in pictures and video, in many cases the fingerprinting machines have been installed in rat-infested cupboards used to store the stinking waste collected from the London Underground network. This is not only degrading but also a major Health and Safety concern which has been raised with ISS and which we will be raising again with London Underground at the highest level.
“RMT members across ISS have been brave enough to stand up and fight this greedy, anti-union company on London Underground and are now being balloted for action.
“The travelling public and the entire trade union movement should be standing alongside these brave workers, doing some of the dirtiest jobs on the transport network, in their battle for workplace justice.”