An image is circulating on social media of a notice handed to outsourced cleaners, employed by the contractor Interserve, at Paddington station.
It insists that the toilets "always have an attendant in view", and accuses cleaners of "hiding in the room." How are cleaners meant to distance safely if they're expected to be continually "in view" in the toilets? Worse, the notice says: "If any staffs [sic] is not working or doing what is expected of them, I will be suspending them and putting them straight into an investigation."
This bullying tone is reminiscent of that with which a 19th century factory foreman might address workers at their looms. But that's the reality of life for low-paid workers in the outsourced economy.
The notice was issued in the name of an individual manager, which we've redacted. That's not because we believe that individual isn't responsible for their actions - anyone capable of writing and issuing such a notice needs to do some serious soul-searching around how they treat other people - but because the issue isn't about the actions of one manager, but the more fundamental question of how workers are treated by their employer.
Cleaners are absolutely on the frontline of confronting the virus and making sure our stations, trains, and facilities are kept as clean as possible. The treatment they face from their employers is an obscene injustice. We demand dignity at work for cleaners; Network Rail, the Train Operation Companies, TfL, and other transport providers must end this scandalous inequality and employ cleaners and other outsourced workers directly.