Mayor’s Question Time had to be adjourned twice on Wednesday 16 October as activists protested Boris Johnson’s failure to follow up on his promise of a Living Wage for tube cleaners. The cleaners’ demands were shouted from the public gallery while more than thirty people demonstrated outside City Hall for the demands to be met.
Today’s action was the latest in a series that have been called to protest the conditions faced by cleaners on the tube. Anne-Marie O’Reilly, who took part in the action today said:
“Cleaners on the Underground are essential for a functioning public transport system in London. It is totally unacceptable that their demands for a Living Wage and decent conditions have been met with intimidation and victimisation on immigration status grounds. We need to expose the employment practices which capitalise on workers’ insecure status to allow poverty wages and demeaning conditions to continue.”
Two months after the Mayor’s 1 August deadline, many cleaners are still waiting to see their wages increase to the Living Wage. On top of this immigration checks have been used to intimidate those who took part three days of legal strike action this summer. One rep has been suspended and three union members have been deported for not having official immigration status.
Andy Ansah, who was at the demonstration outside City Hall and who until recently worked as a cleaner on the tube said:
‘Immediately after the strike this summer the companies that run the tube used immigration controls to get rid of people. We are here to protest against that. Cleaners should not be victimised or deported for demanding the living wage.’
Cleaners will continue to organise and solidarity activists have said actions will continue until the Living Wage is extended to all cleaners on the Underground, and intimidation stops.
There are photos of the action here: Feminist Fightback Flickr – 16th October action