Train cleaners deserve better

Group pic: Unite and HTUC join the RMT cleaners at Hastings Station to DEMAND BETTER

Last week, I went to the Hastings Demands Better TUC meeting, and learned a lot about what various local community groups and industrial unions were doing about the cost-of-living crisis.

Link: To read about Hastings Demands Better click here

One of the speakers, Bella Fashola, told us about the Churchill train cleaners’ dispute. The overarching issue is clear: how are people who clean trains, but don’t work for a railway company, supposed to live on £9.50 an hour? Not being direct railway employees, they don’t even get travel concessions, so can be in a position where finding the money to pay fares and get to work is a major problem, let alone paying rent and feeding a family.

RMT Justice for Cleaners leaflet

There are underlying, long-term problems as well though, which apply to many, many workers in this time of austerity and struggle. I spoke to some of the cleaners at Hastings station today, and at one point, we were trying to remember when the railway companies stopped employing ancillary staff directly. Was it back in the British Rail days? Or in the Connex era? You can see the messy end of Connex’s time here…

This Is Money: click here to read “Connex stripped of rail franchise

See what a battle that was? And inside the mess that is private companies battling over contracts to run railway companies, there is another set of battles between ancillary contractors such as Churchill. When the time comes for those contracts to be renewed, the companies are shaving shaved shavings, trying to get into a position to undermine their rivals and win the contracts. They call it ‘productivity’ or ‘efficiency’, but what it translates as is starvation wages, and employees who can barely afford to get to work, let alone cope with a cost of living crisis. Privatisation may help rich people get richer but for the rest of us, it is a disaster.

Here’s how you can help the Churchill cleaners fight their way to a living wage…

Leaflet: how you can help
RMT leaflet: how to support the cleaners’ action

Now, I’m off to talk to some more RMT people, and find out more about what needs doing to make working, or even traveling, on the railways s viable and affordable thing to do, and how to put an end to the cost-of-living crisis.

Churchill cleaners at Hastings Station 'fighting for £15 per hour'

Please don’t forget to support the cleaners by sending in and/or tweeting your views (details above), if you’re in Hastings, the cleaners are outside the station from 10am until the 6th June – please go and talk to them about demanding better, and please prepare to come to London if you possibly can on the 18th June, to help us all Demand Better.


Dear Reader,

Times are hard (there’s a cost of living crisis going on!) and so the articles on this site are freely available but if you are able to support my work by making a donation, I am very grateful.

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