London Underground cleaners in the RMT union struck as the Olympics opened to demand a living wage. They walked out for two days, starting on Friday of last week—the day of the Olympics opening ceremony.
The cleaners won the London Living Wage after a strike in 2007. But their employers—private contractors ISS and Initial—have not given them the increases that were agreed.
“We work very hard,” Venetsiya Reshetarova, RMT cleaners’ rep at the Ealing Common depot, told Socialist Worker on the picket line. “It’s only fair we receive a decent wage for the job we do.
“It’s right to strike during the Olympics. If not now then when? If they don't agree to our demands then we must strike again.”
Petrit Mihaj, an RMT health and safety rep, also joined the picket. He said, “While London’s putting on the biggest show on earth, cleaners are being exploited. With the eyes of the world on London we're exposing that reality.”
Around 500 people marched through east London on Saturday of last week in protest at the commercialisation and militarisation of the Olympic Games.
The march went past the Bow Quarter block of flats, where the army has stationed missiles on the roof despite protests from local people.
Soldiers on the roof of the building looked down as protesters chanted, “Hey ho, Seb Coe, get your missiles out of Bow!”
While the eyes of the world were on the Olympic opening ceremony, the police were busy arresting 182 cyclists. They were taking part in Critical Mass, the monthly mass cycle ride through London, when the police made the biggest mass arrest since last year’s riots.
Police confirmed a 13 year old was among those arrested. Some were piled into buses and held in a “police garage” through the night.
Shami Chakrabarti, director of civil liberties group Liberty, carried the Olympic flag in the opening ceremony. Liberty has not commented on the arrests.
Disabled children in India affected by the Bhopal disaster held a protest against Dow Chemical’s Olympic sponsorship on Thursday of last week.
The chemical plant, then owned by Union Carbide, exploded in 1984. Dow took over the firm but has refused to take any responsibility for the aftermath. The children held their own games—in wheelchairs.