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TfL cleaning contracts ‘prioritise cost-cutting over staff and passengers' health,’ says RMT

CLEANING contracts for Transport for London (TfL) put cost cutting and profits before the safety of workers and commuters, RMT claims.

The rail union said that documents revealed through a freedom of information request that TfL’s contract with outsourcing company ABM shows the contractor is scored more on how successful it is in cutting expenses than in cleaning trains and stations. 

Only 8 per cent of the company’s quarterly score is based on how well it cleans the seats, handrails, hangers, arm rests and floors of trains or how well they clean station platforms, seats and floors, according to the performance measurement matrix used by TfL.

In contrast, 30 per cent of the company’s score is judged according to how much effort goes into cutting money from the contract and how much is saved. 

RMT said the proceeds of these savings are split equally between TfL and ABM.

The contract is designed to incentivise ABM to cut 1 per cent of costs from the cleaning contract every year by using a “contract innovation efficiency” clause, according to RMT.

In 2019, ABM cut hundreds of cleaners’ jobs with remaining staff receiving inferior pensions and sick pay and no access to TfL travel passes, unlike other TfL employees.

In its letter to London Mayor Sadiq Khan today RMT is calling on him to follow the Welsh Labour government decision last week to work with RMT to bring cleaners on the Wales and Borders Franchise into direct employment with Transport for Wales.

RMT senior assistant general secretary Mick Lynch said: “At this time when we’re battling a global pandemic, when the essential importance of cleaning has never been more apparent, it can’t be right that the Underground is being cleaned by a company which is being rewarded more for cutting costs than cleaning trains and stations.

“This contract is a sackers’ charter and we know from the NHS that cutting jobs and employment costs makes cleaning less effective and less safe.”

An ABM spokesperson said it did not recognise some of the information in the report and was taking time to review it in detail before providing comment.

TfL did not respond to the Star’s request for comment.

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