Cleaners on the London Underground chalked up an impressive victory in January when Clara Osagiede, a Cleaners Grade union secretary with the RMT (Rail, Maritime and Transport Union), had her sacking decision overturned in a disciplinary hearing with ISS, the owners of the cleaning contract on the Tube.
Mary Boakye, another union rep whose hearing followed that of Clara, had her dismissal delayed by 24 hours due to a raucous mobilisation in solidarity with the two women on the ISS front steps. The cleaning contractor’s choice to target them – who were both active in a successful strike for a London living wage (£7.45/hour) for tube cleaners –demonstrates its opposition to ongoing efforts by cleaners to improve their conditions in a contract which still doesn’t offer sickness pay, despite the death of one cleaner on the job last year.
Outside the hearing at ISS’ head offices in Greenwich, southeast London, Clara thanked the assembled supporters from the RMT and London Coalition Against Poverty, amongst others. “I got my job back because of your being here”, she said, noting how the noisy demonstration had apparently triggered a sudden attack of conscience on the part of ISS managers.
Spurred on by the reinstatement of Clara, mobilisations have continued in support of the dismissed Mary and the growing list of sacked union activists while cleaners fight on for pension rights, free travel to and from shifts and sickness pay.