Monday 7 January 2013

The human cost of out-sourcing: Justice for the 33

Some of the 33 sacked workers outside Wembley Central today

A demonstration was held today outside Wembley Central station for 33 agency workers employed by Railpeople who were given notice of the termination of their contracts just before Christmas. The agency deployed them in the Wembley Central Group on various duties for London Underground.  The workers had achieved  7 100% consecutive Customer Service marks during the Olympics and now their Olympic 'legacy' is loss of their jobs.

They were turned down for alternative permanent jobs with London Underground (doing the same kind of thing they were doing on short-term, zero hours, no pension contracts). Instead they employed people who hadn't doen the jobs before.  HT apparently told them that although they were good enough to do the jobs as agency staff they weren't good enough to work directly for London Underground.

When London Underground took control of the stations north of Queens Park in 2008 that the casualisation of the job, particularly the use of agency workers, lead to a dispute as a result of which LU assured the RMT that the use of agency staff would be temporary, lasting a maximum of six months. Some of the workers have been with Trainpeople agency for five years!

The RMT has taken up their case and are demanding that all LU trained station staff working for Trainpeople agency should be transferred over to LU without having to apply for the job,

Bob Crow of the RMT made an impassioned speech putting the sackings in the context of privatisation and austerity, Navin Shah AM  cited equality (all the 33 are members of ethnic minorities) as the big issue and promised to take the case up with London Underground, TfL and the Major, and Councillor Nana Asante from Harrow pledged her support.

However the speech that stayed with me was from one of the workers who spoke movingly about the real impact on her and the sense of bewilderment she felt.

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