Tube strike approaching, but not that kind... 700 London Underground cleaners will walk out for a 24 hour strike scheduled to start at 6.50pm this evening with a second walk-out set for 1 July which will last 48 hours. Such specific timing for the start of this week's strike is intriguing - is ten minutes to seven the point in time when the freesheets from the evening rush hour reach critical mass?
Dismissed as completely unnecessary by Transport for London, the strike will be held by Rail and Maritime Transport (RMT) union members who are demanding an increase in hourly rates from £5.50 per hour to a "London living wage" of £7.20 per hour. Currently there are no disciplinary hearing or right to appeal procedures in place for cleaners who are sacked, and according to RMT leader Bob Crow, there is no sick pay, travel facilities or pensions for cleaning staff.
London MPs are backing this industrial action: MP John McDonnell declared support for the cleaners and tabled an early day motion (which always sounds like a bathroom manoeuvre but is something else entirely). Eight London MPs backed it, clearly as unconvinced as the RMT that Transport for London will honour its promise to ensure Metronet and its sub-contractors are paid an appropriate living wage. For this evening, and next Tuesday, everyone pick up after yourselves - if you find yourself grumbling about having to do so, remember why the strike is in place and find a bin for that empty paper coffee cup.