Wednesday, November 15, 2006

London news round-up

Eurostar cleaners ballot for strike

MORE THAN 100 members of the RMT transport union who are employed by OCS as cleaners on its Eurostar contract are to be balloted for industrial action over the company’s failure improve a pay offer that falls way short of eradicating poverty pay rates.
Members are to be asked to vote to strike and for action short of strike to back their campaign for a minimum pay rate that matches London mayor Ken Livingstone’s recommendation of a living wage of at least £7.05 an hour.
“OCS is paying cleaners as little as £5.50 an hour, even for nights, Sundays and bank-holiday work, and that is simply not good enough,” RMT general secretary Bob Crow said last week.
“The paltry increase they are offering includes consolidation of a £10 weekly attendance bonus and boils down to an insult of 20p an hour and would still leave pay rates around £1 an hour below a living wage.
“I am sure that Eurostar passengers will be horrified to learn that the people who clean their trains and stations are paid at such miserable rates.
“If OCS can afford to pay their top director £175,000 a year and can stump up cash to sponsor a stand at the Oval they can afford to pay the people who actually make their money a decent wage.
“And it is no use Eurostar burying their heads in the sand either. Poverty wages are being paid to cleaners working on their railway, and they also have a responsibility to stop it.
“If OCS want to avoid industrial action it is up to them to come back to the talks table and negotiate decent pay rates,” Bob Crow said.

Rally against global warming

MORE THAN 20,000 people filled Trafalgar Square last Saturday in a mass rally to demand that the Government acts to tackle the threat of global warming.
The event was organised by Stop Climate Chaos and supported by over 40 organisations, including Greenpeace, Friends of the earth, Oxfam, Make Poverty History, Surfers Against Sewage, the Women’s Institute and the Ramblers’ Association.
It was timed to come just before the United Nations climate change talks in Nairobi and just after the Stern report into climate change.
Those who came included walkers from the West Midlands, cyclists from Somerset and one man who paddled his canoe from Oxford.
Ashok Sinha, the director of Stop Climate Change, said: “The event reflects how widespread the concern about climate change is. It is emerging out of the green box. People realise it’s not just an environmental question but a moral one.”
The Bishop of Liverpool, James Stuart Jones, was critical of the Government stance on the environment; he said: “Ministers have lent their support to the Stern report on climate change, but, sadly, lent is the word because they give support one day and take it back the next.” A large contingent of the protesters marched past the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square on their way to Trafalgar Square to highlight the US position as the planet’s worst polluter.