98% support industrial action but turnout too low
The possibility of further disruption on London Underground over the Christmas period appears to have been averted after a strike ballot by cleaners failed to meet the required threshold for participation.
Over 98% of the tube cleaners who are members of the RMT Union and employed by ABM voted to take strike action. However, of the 620 members balloted only 299 voted which was below the 50% participation required by legislation to allow the strike to proceed.
Opponents of the strike claimed that the apparent overwhelming support was illusory because the best course of action for those that did not want to take industrial action was not to participate in the ballot.
Cleaning staff do not receive the same pensions, sick pay and free travel as other Transport for London (TfL) workers on the Underground, because they are employed by American-based contractor ABM. The aim of the strike would have been to obtain better conditions, and an increase to their £19,029 annual salary.
General Secretary Mick Cash said, "Despite an overwhelming vote for action we have failed to meet the arbitrary thresholds set by the Government and the fact that the tube cleaners will now be denied the right to strike is wholly down to the toxic combination of the Tory anti-union laws and a bullying and hostile environment created by ABM.
"RMT will review the situation but no one should be under any illusions. This fight for workplace justice goes on and we will be stepping up the pressure on the London Mayor to end the scandal of the two-tier workforce on London Underground."
An ABM spokesperson said on the announcement of the ballot, “Our colleagues are the best in the business and play a vital role in keeping the London Underground clean, all year round.
“For that reason, we are pleased to offer a pay and benefits package that compares favourably to the average for the cleaning profession in the UK.”
November 20, 2019