RMT - National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers

04/08/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 04/08/2021 01:15

London Labour politicians support bringing Tube cleaners back in-house

Poll of London Labour politicians finds overwhelming support to end privatisation of Tube cleaning in wake of COVID - 19 pandemic

In the week that London Mayor Sadiq Khan made a firm manifesto commitment to explore bringing the London Underground's multi - million-pound cleaning contract in house, a new poll of London Labour councillors has found overwhelming support to end the privatisation of the tube cleaning when the current contract ends in 2022.

Reflecting the vital role the Tube's thousands of cleaners have played in fighting COVID-19, a massive 98% of London Labour Councillors have said Transport for London should put an end to the outsourcing of London's tube cleaning.

Comments made by some of the councillors included.

'In these days of COVID-19 this would be a vital change and improvement to the service. It would ensure, for example, decent wages and proper accountability.'

'Direct provision and insourcing are the best way to ensure quality of staff and service'

'Insourcing can improve results and reduce costs if done right'.

'Outsourcing is a scourge and allows profits to be made off the backs of low paid workers. Better for workers and better for passengers if cleaning is delivered in house.'

The support for bringing tube cleaning in - house follows similar backing for the move from the London Labour Assembly group and candidates.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said,

'It is a welcome step that Sadiq Khan has used his manifesto to recognise the essential role tube cleaners have played fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Knowing what we do now of the vital public health importance of tube cleaning it would be frankly beyond belief if this essential service was again privatised next year, which is why today we can reveal there is overwhelming support among London Labour Councillors to bring tube cleaning in house.

There is now a growing coalition for our cleaners who recognised that if Sadiq Khan brings London Underground cleaning in - house he will not only improve safety on the tube, he will be sending a positive message throughout the UK that cleaners are and always have been key workers who are central to our safety and need to be properly valued and respected.'

Notes for editors.

The 'Sadiq for London' 2021 Mayoral manifesto says

'Some private-sector delivery has on occasions fallen short of the high standards Londoners deserve. That is why I'll look, when opportunities arise, to bring services back in house. I've already started by bringing the failing Woolwich Ferry back in house. I will instruct TfL to review its cleaning contract with ABM, including an assessment of extending the free travel cleaners receive whilst at work to their journeys to and from work.'

RMT conducted a poll of London Labour Councillors between 23 February and 30 March 2021. Of those who responded all but four said that the heroes who have kept the Underground clean and safe during the pandemic should no longer be employed by a private contractor but should be brought into the direct employment of London Underground.

Would you support TfL insourcing Tube cleaning when the contract ends in 2022, so that cleaners are directly employed by London Underground ?

Answer Choices

Response Percent








Don't know



Skipped question



Sample polling comments included,

'Outsourcing is a scourge and allows profits to be made off the backs of low paid workers. Better for workers and better for passengers if cleaning is delivered in house.'

'Compulsory Competitive Tendering only worked for the employers making a profit from paying low wages and providing a poorer service than in house. In any civilised, forward looking society-especially during a pandemic, we need to end such unnecessary practice immediately.'

'Tube cleaners are valuable people they are entitled to a secure job. They should be directly employed by London Underground and not Agencies or Contractors.'

'Insourcing can improve results and reduce costs if done right'.

'Islington has had a huge push to insource. It's the right thing to do. TfL should reach out to authorities like Islington who could offer guidance about how to approach the insourcing issue'

'Insourcing will bring a sense of ownership and commitment to a common transport system.'

'Like Lewisham Council I believe all Labour led authorities should adopt a presumption in favour of insourcing and a tendering process that supports it.'

'As a local authority, London Borough of Hounslow has, these past five years, done similar via its wholly owned companies. Refuse collection, property maintenance, parks, leisure facilities and office cleaning are delivered this way.'