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Union says rail cleaners ‘surviving on poverty pay’

Image credit: aureolindn Flickr

Union says rail cleaners ‘surviving on poverty pay’

Scottish rail cleaners are demanding a “real living wage” from employer Mitie, launching a “justice for cleaners” campaign at major train stations including Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Central.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) says it wants passengers to know they “are passing through stations that are cleaned, day and night, by people who are surviving on poverty pay”.

The union launched its campaign in Glasgow on Tuesday, with workers this week leafleting outside Network Rail-managed stations in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham.

A recent survey of Mitie workers, carried out by RMT, revealed 50 per cent were struggling to make ends meet.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said it was “a scandal” that staff employed by Mitie were “doing some of the dirtiest work in the rail industry at all hours of the night and day, are struggling to make ends meet and are paid below the real living wage”.

“A company that can pay nearly £49m to its shareholders in dividends in the last five years for doing nothing can afford to pay its cleaners a decent wage for the work that they do,” Cash said.

“Mitie’s cleaners have had enough and are fighting for a real living wage, but they need the help of the travelling public and I would urge passengers to sign the petition and help us to persuade Mitie and Network Rail to put an end to this scandal.”

More than 18,000 people have signed an online petition demanding Mitie chief executive Phil Bentley “pay the living wage to Mitie cleaners now”.

A Mitie spokesperson told Holyrood the company was “fully supportive of initiatives to pay our staff the real living wage”.

“We know how difficult it is to maintain a decent standard of living and take care of a family on the national living wage, which is why we have worked with most of our top clients to move to real living wage,” the spokesperson said.

“We are in regular dialogue with Network Rail regarding pay and conditions, and will do all we can to work closely with them, and with other stakeholders such as the Business Services Association and unions where appropriate, to obtain a move to the real living wage for our staff.”

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