pay rise yet.’ 73% of workers lost income if they took time off to attend to emergencies, 60% did not receive sick pay, and 73% claimed they did not receive other benefits from employers such as maternity and paternity leave. A large majority did not contribute to a company pension scheme (71%) and a small proportion of workers took no paid holidays (14%).
The respondents were asked about the aspects of their job that they liked and as many as two-fifths noted only that the job gave them an opportunity to earn an income. The possibility of social contact was also mentioned as a positive feature, whilst a number of workers gave answers such as ‘have time to do other stuff in the morning’ or ‘no language [English] requirement’. However, one quarter of workers found nothing in particular that they liked about their job, considering it to be ‘just a job’.
The negative features of their jobs were also identified (Table 8). Low pay was the principal aspect that the respondents disliked (32%), although many also complained about their employers’ policies and practices (28%). An equal share of workers (13%) were unhappy with the nature and demands of their jobs and disliked the treatment they received from the public (reporting, for example, that they were ‘looked down on’).
Table 8: Dislikes about the Job: London Underground Cleaners
What don’t you like about your job?
Employer’s policies /practices
Treatment by Customers/the public
No response = 12
In particular, unfair treatment by employers was a recurrent theme highlighted by the research. Some workers, for instance, were made to pay for their own training before starting the job. Others had to pay a deposit of £130 for a fire safety card. Cleaners also had to pay for their own Travelcards in order to be able to move on the Underground whilst at work and then ask the employer for a reimbursement, whilst staff employed directly by Transport for London receive a free yearly travel pass. One worker stated that he lost four hours worth of wages if he was 30 minutes late.
Inadequate facilities were frequently mentioned. As Badu from Ghana claimed ‘We can’t use the mess room because there are rats in there’, while another described their room as ‘dark and dingy.’ One station had no staff mess room at all, and cleaners had no option but to sit on the train platform to eat their lunch, even in the winter months. Inadequate clothing was also a source of discomfort. Ashaki from Nigeria claimed ‘We haven’t had any new uniforms for two years. In summer we are still wearing thick jumpers in the sweltering heat. They had to give us proper work shoes because so many people were falling over, but no new trousers or t-shirts.’ Workers were, therefore, most critical of their employers and many argued that their employers showed no concern for their welfare. Comments included: ‘They [employer] ignore