Sean Smith has done a great service to your readers by bringing into the daylight the hidden labour of those who have worked every day to keep the London underground clean through the pandemic (‘Unsung heroes’: cleaners keeping London’s transport Covid-safe – photo essay, 10 December).
He is right to spot that they are among the lowest-paid workers. London underground cleaning is outsourced to a company called ABM. The cleaners do not receive the same pension provision as their Transport for London counterparts and they are not entitled to free travel on the network they clean. Their workloads have soared as the company has cut back their numbers every year since the contract began, leaving them desperately overstretched during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, by shaving costs off the contract in this way, ABM has doubled its profits in the last year. This is no way to treat heroic workers who have been on the frontline of the fight against the virus. It’s not fair, and it’s toying with the safety of the tube. Sadiq Khan should pledge to bring this contract in house when it comes up in 2022.
General secretary, RMT