Tube cleaning contract puts cost-cutting and profits before safety

Tube cleaning contract puts cost-cutting and profits before safety

13 July 2020

RMT Press Office:

Freedom of Information request reveals Tube cleaning contract puts cost-cutting and profits before safety

TUBE UNION RMT said that documents disclosed under Freedom of Information legislation reveal that Transport for London’s contract with outsourcing company ABM shows the contractor is scored more for how successful they are in cutting jobs than in cleaning trains and stations.

The performance measurement matrix used by TfL shows that only 8% of the company’s quarterly score is based on how well it cleans the seats, hand rails, hangers, arms rests and floors of trains or how well they clean station platforms, seats and floors. By contrast, 30% of the company’s score is judged according to how much effort goes into cutting money from the contract and how much is saved. The proceeds of these savings are split equally between TfL and ABM.

The documents reveal the contact is designed to incentivize the company to cut costs from the cleaning contract. A ‘Contract Innovation Efficiency’ clause commits ABM to seeking to cut 1% from the contract costs every year. TfL documents acknowledge that around 85% of costs on the Underground contract are accounted for by labour – cleaners’ jobs. ABM cut hundreds of cleaners’ jobs in 2019, while its staff receive inferior pensions and sick pay and do not have access to TfL travel passes, unlike other TfL employees.

In its letter to the Mayor today the union called on Sadiq Khan to follow the example set by the Welsh Labour government last week when it agreed to work with RMT to bring cleaners working on the Wales and Borders Franchise into direct employment with Transport for Wales.

RMT Senior Assistant General Secretary Mick Lynch said,

“At this time when we’re battling a global pandemic, when the essential importance of cleaning has never been more apparent, it can’t be right that the Underground is being cleaned by a company who are being rewarded more for cutting costs than cleaning trains and stations.

“This contract is a sackers’ charter and we know from the NHS that cutting jobs and employment costs makes cleaning less effective and less safe. We urge Sadiq Khan to follow the example set by the Welsh Labour government and sit down with us to work out how to bring this service in-house again. when the contract ends in 2022.”


Notes for editors
Dear Sadiq,
I’m writing to you on behalf of the RMT to ask you to commit to convening a working group with the union to work on bringing Underground cleaning in-house. 
You may have seen the good news recently that Transport for Wales, under the auspices of the Welsh Labour Government has agreed to convene a working group with RMT to do exactly this in relation to its outsourced cleaners on the Wales and Borders franchise. We very much welcome this positive and constructive approach from the Welsh government which we believe will not only remove the rank injustice of the two-tier workforce but will give TfW greater control over this essential service and mark a decisive break with the mistaken view that cleaning is a ‘non-core’ activity.
This view that cleaning is ‘non-core’ has been a justification for outsourcing, on the assumption that running cleaning commercially would not have an impact on the core activity, in this case of running trains on the Underground network. However, studies in the NHS have revealed that outsourcing is correlated with worse public health outcomes and a higher incidence of infectious disease on wards. This is due, the studies say, to the fact that outsourcing companies seek to cut costs by reducing employment costs and cutting jobs. 
At a time when the importance of investing in rigorous cleaning of public transport is clear to us all, it must be right to reverse the outsourcing of this service.
I believe that this is a particularly urgent issue given that documents released by TfL indicate that the company contracted to clean the Underground is scored using a performance measurement mechanism that incentivizes it to cut costs. I am disturbed to learn that fully 30% of ABM’s quarterly performance score is assessed on its success in cutting costs and only 8% on how well it cleans trains and stations. It cannot be right that we are fighting a global pandemic and struggling to preserve public health with a contract that rewards cost cutting and profiteering.
I would urge you in the strongest terms to use your power to set an example, following that of the Welsh Labour Government, by drawing a line under this experiment with outsourcing and convening a working group with the union to bring this service in house when the contract expires in 2022.
Yours sincerely,
Mick Lynch
Assistant General Secretary
TfL acknowledge that labour accounts for 85% of costs in para 3.10 (g) of this document, presented to their Finance Committee in 2017 (
The Contract Innovation and Efficiency mechanism is described in 1FM Bundle 5, Cleaning, Main Contract Part 6, pdf pages 25 and 26 (see figures 1 and 2) and 1FM Bundle 5, Cleaning, Main Contract Part 9, pdf page 34. (See figure 3)
The cleaning standards used and the marking scheme used to assess performance in meeting them are contained in 1FM Bundle 5, Cleaning, Main Contract Part 2, pdf pages 7-84 and 1FM Bundle 5, Cleaning, Main Contract Part 5, Appendices 3, 4 and 5, pdf pages 44-71
The different weightings used to score ABM’s performance against key indicators are in Schedule 12a, Appendix 2: Quarterly Contract Scorecard, on pdf page 75 of 1FM Bundle 5 - Cleaning - TfL 00929 - Main Contract_REDACTED_Part5.pdf  (see figure 4). This shows that performance against the Contract Innovation Efficiency mechanism accounts for 30% of its score, while performance against the General, Fleet and Station Quality Marking Systems only accounted for 8%. (see figures 5, 6 and 7 below.)
Figure 1: KPI: ‘Contract Innovation Efficiency’ 
Figure 2: KPI: Contract Innovation and Efficiency
Figure 3: Description of how Contract Innovation Efficiency operates
Figure 5: Schedule 12 performance matrix: showing weightings of different KPIs
Figure 6: Schedule 12 performance matrix detail 1
Figure 7: Schedule 12 performance matrix detail 2

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Tagged with: London underground, tube, lul, tfl, abm, cleaners, Sadiq Khan,