Labour in government must end outsourcing – Murad Qureshi


“Working people in London will need a Labour administration more than ever & we need that administration to be ambitious & active in delivering Labour policy wherever we can.”

Murad Qureshi

I’m proud to have been shortlisted to run for the GLA on the London-wide list and members are currently voting on the order of our candidates. I’ve been proud to represent Labour before in the Assembly and I want to use that experience to make sure that Labour is standing up for the people who need us.

Specifically, I worked with unions and local Labour Groups against Tory cuts – including stopping the closure of post offices and fire stations – and was one of the first elected politicians to sign up to the creation of The Peoples Assembly Against Austerity.

The current situation of a Tory government with a significant majority means that working people in London will need a Labour administration more than ever and we need that administration to be ambitious and active in delivering Labour policy wherever we can.

It’s not just in the often cited example of Preston that we should seek inspiration. Across our city Labour councils are beginning to take on the legacy of years of dogmatic policy prejudice in favour of privatisation. I want to see a Labour mayor in 2020, but I also want to see a Labour mayor ending the endemic outsourcing in the capital, wherever he can. Transport for London is a huge employer with around 26,000 workers on its books and much of it is under the Mayor’s control. The franchising of London’s Overground and the Bus network is enshrined in national legislation, but even here Labour should be holding to account a government that professes to be in favour of devolution. We should be arguing for amendments in legislation that enable TfL to run its railways and buses in the public sector. At a moment when the Tory government has just taken Northern Rail into public ownership, pledging to devolve more power to Transport for the North, this is an opportunity to be bold.

But there is plenty of outsourcing in TfL that the Mayor could tackle right now. Arriva Rail London has just shuffled its cleaners from one outsourcing company, Vinci, to another, Engie Ltd. These workers, who went on strike last year for the Living Wage, should be brought into TfL employment. Outsourcing is also rife on the Underground. We should have a concrete plan for reviewing all the maintenance contracts on the tube, not just against value for money, but against good employment and quality of service criteria. Most scandalous is the continued outsourcing of Underground cleaning.

There are around 2,000 cleaners working to keep the Underground clean every day. Keeping the underground clean means cleaning station platforms, corridors and the trains every night. And as we ask more of the Underground network, their job becomes harder, more intensive, dirtier, more hazardous. These people are not an adjunct to the Underground workforce, they are absolutely integral to it, helping to produce a clean, hygienic travel experience for 2 million people every day. It is just wrong, very wrong, that they are employed by a US outsourcing company. As a recent RMT report shows, their workloads are soaring as jobs are cut by cost-cutting bosses, they don’t get occupational sick pay or a decent pension and they don’t get the same travel facilities as other Underground staff. Yet they are what’s between us all and an increasingly dirty, unhygienic and unhealthy Underground with poor air quality on the tube. No Labour administration should look at this situation and think ‘that’s ok’. They should be brought in-house by London Underground now. That’s what Labour in government should be about.

  • Murad Qureshi is a former Labour member of the London Assembly, who is currently running in the election for our London-wide list. You can follow him on Twitter here and Facebook here.

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