Cleaners on London Underground started a 48-hour strike on August 9 in a dispute over Olympic bonus payments. The workers are concerned that they have been excluded from bonuses made available to other occupations.
The cleaners taking action are members of the Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) trade union. According to the BBC, the workers began their action at 5.30 a.m. and set up picket lines outside London Underground stations, with the main protest centered on the tube station at Stratford, close to the Olympic Park.
The staff are employed by the cleaning company Initial, who have a contract with London Transport.
The reason that the staff and their union are taking action is, according to an RMT press release, because the union argues that the staff have not been fairly rewarded for the extra work that they have undertaken during the busy period of the Olympic Games and because many other transport workers, like train and bus drivers, have been awarded bonus payments.
The leader of the RMT union, Bob Crow, is quoted in the Independent as saying “With the eyes of the world on the London Olympics the many millions enjoying the events around the globe must not forget the London transport cleaners on minimum pay rates doing some of the dirtiest jobs in often appalling conditions with no Olympics recognition and reward whatsoever.
“It is these same staff who have played a key role in keeping services clean and safe who are now forced again by their employers to take action for a living wage and recognition of their Olympics efforts.”
Phil Hufton, asset performance director for London Underground, is quoted by the Evening Standard as saying "This industrial dispute is between Initial and its staff. We have reviewed our staffing plans and have already put contingencies in place. We anticipate no impact on London Underground services as a result of this industrial action."
Whether the action taken by the workers is effective remains to be seen.