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Train cleaners strike in ‘living wage’ row
TRANSPORT cleaners have taken their pay battle to the streets of York and a rail company’s city offices as fresh talks aimed at ending a bitter dispute are due to be held.
Members of the RMT union who work for contractor ISS held demonstrations at York and London King’s Cross Stations yesterday during a 24-hour strike over claims their employer is paying them less than the living wage for their work along the East Coast Mainline.
The York protest, backed by York TUC, also saw more than 50 union members gather outside East Coast’s headquarters in Skeldergate, with officials saying they wanted the company to lobby ISS over the issue.
The cleaners are not directly employed by East Coast, which has said it wants to see an end to the dispute but it will have to be resolved between ISS and its workers.
Craig Johnston, RMT regional organiser for the north, said: “People came from Leeds, Doncaster, Wakefield and Newcastle for our York demonstration and we have had a lot of public support, because people are sick of seeing front-line workers being paid poverty wages while companies make millions of pounds in profits.
“We took the protest to East Coast’s HQ because they are ISS’ client and we want them to put pressure on their contractor to pay their staff a living wage.”
Mr Johnston said the RMT would enter today’s talks with “an open mind”, saying: “Our members don’t want to be on strike, losing money and causing inconvenience for the public and even for ISS and East Coast, but we will be back if a resolution cannot be reached.”
ISS did not respond to a request for comment on yesterday’s demonstrations, but has previously said staff outside London have received a 9.8 per cent increase in wages since last October, taking them to £6.67 an hour.
An East Coast spokesman said: “We’re aware of the RMT’s concerns, and have been encouraging our supplier ISS to meet with the union to resolve this dispute, which is between ISS and the staff it directly employs.
“Negotiations are currently being finalised between East Coast and ISS on a new cleaning contract for East Coast’s trains and stations nationwide.
“As part of this new contract, ISS has committed to a phased introduction of a London Living Wage for its London-based employees, which we welcome.”
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