ISS have announced that it will not pay the London Living Wage of £7.45 from April after all.
The cleaners' strike last summer was called to a halt when most of the cleaning companies began paying the London Living Wage. ISS, contracted in by TubeLines, said they would phase it in. They paid a 60p increase in September and promised the rest in April.
Now they say the money from near-bankrupt TubeLines is not available. We should say, we don't care where you get the money, you have an obligation to pay the meagre London Living Wage. ISS is a multinational, profit-making company. They can afford to lift their cleaners out of poverty!
This has been a major blow to cleaners who have been relying on the promised increase. Anger is high. But the worry is that it will not be followed by any action from the RMT. ISS have effectively sacked reps and union members in a total union-busting mission since the strike. The union has to do a lot of work to rebuild for a fightback. One suggestion - why not employ some of the many cleaner reps who have been sacked as union organisers to get the cleaners' fight back on its feet? We also need to step up the campaign for immigration rights for cleaner members, otherwise any union organisation will be imperilled by the employers' immigration policing.
But we cannot wait before responding. We must use the opportunity of a big union fightback in other grades to raise the issue of the cleaners' pay. After all, a union is defined by how it treats its lowest paid members. We should be pushing for failed contractor TubeLines to be brought back under public ownership, so that no cowboy contractor has an excuse for paying poverty wages. To anyone who want to get involved in the cleaners' campaign - the fight is still on and the union needs all the activists it can get.