RMT members working for Churchill’s to take action over pay and victimisation

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Cleaners working for Churchill’s on the Tyne and Wear Metro are to take a further 48 hours of strike action in their battle against poverty pay and the victimisation of a work colleague.

The latest phase of action from 10.30pm on Sunday follows rock solid support for three previous days of strikes in the two disputes over an attempt by the company to impose poverty pay and cuts to standards of living and the victimisation of an RMT member.

The union has also stepped up the political and industrial fight for a fair deal with a show of strength at the Durham Miners’ Gala, strong solidarity from the TUC and the broader Labour Movement and with MP’s coming out in support of the cleaners with an Early Day Motion, tabled by Gateshead MP Ian Mearns.

The Churchill’s cleaners’ battle is over an attempt by the highly-profitable company to impose a zero per cent pay award on a workforce already on the bare minimum wage and the victimising and disciplining on trumped up allegations of an RMT work colleague. On previous strike days RMT has been told that Churchill’s have attempted to recruit scabs on a far higher hourly rate of pay, proving that the money is there when it suits the company.

Despite extensive talks and pressure from the union Churchill’s, following discussions with their client DB Regio, have decided to offer no increase in basic pay whatsoever even though the company has doubled its profits in the past five years and has extracted nearly £7 million from the exploitation of essential cleaning staff on the most basic pay and conditions including no sick pay, no pensions and none of the travel concessions rights enjoyed by other NEXUS workers.

While the company is trying to enshrine poverty pay amongst the staff who deliver vast returns for the shareholders, its own highest paid director has had a salary increase of more than 18% in the last 5 years to nearly £160,000 making a nonsense of their claims that they can’t afford a decent offer to the front-line cleaning staff.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “RMT members have shown guts and determination through three days of rock-solid strike action in the fight for workplace and pay justice. This battle is now seen as having national significance in the campaign against low pay and exploitation by greedy companies and RMT will continue to ratchet up the pressure for fairness for this important group of North East transport staff.

“In the face of the insulting zero pay offer from the company our members have had no option but to fight back in the battle to eliminate poverty pay. RMT members have shown rock solid unity and courage in the industrial and community campaign to end this exploitation by a company whose Boardroom is awash with cash and whose top bosses are raking it in at our members’ expense. This dispute in a mirror-image of all that wrong in this country with greedy company bosses on one side and low paid cleaners providing essential public services on the other – forced to strike to protect and improve their standards of living and their working conditions.

“It remains a scandal that the regional passenger organisation NEXUS, and the operating company DB Regio, have still not lifted a finger to stop this exploitation and poverty pay scandal on their own doorstep and RMT has no intention of letting them off the hook. NEXUS and the City council cannot wash their hands of this dispute and RMT is calling for them to intervene with Churchill’s to help force a solution.”


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