First Great Western train cleaners stage third strike

Cleaners for train operator First Great Western (FGW) have staged their third walkout in the past month in a dispute over pay and zero-hour contracts.

It involves about 200 Railway Maritime and Transport (RMT) union members who are employed by sub-contractor MITIE.

Action by workers from the West Country and Wales began at 06:00 GMT and ends on Saturday morning. London staff are due to strike from Friday to Monday.

MITIE said it had "contingency plans" in place and was in talks with the RMT.

Cleaners employed by MITIE claim to be FGW's lowest-paid workers and earlier this year rejected an offer of a 2% wage rise - which was later increased to 3%.

'Living wage'

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: "MITIE RMT members on First Great Western have shown guts and determination throughout this long fight for workplace and pay.

"MITIE are key players in the driving down on wages and working conditions for some of the lowest paid workers in Britain.

"Now is the time for the cleaners out there day and night on MITIE/First Great Western to get their fair share through a living wage, decent sick pay and benefits and an end to the evil of zero-hours contracts."

A MITIE spokesman said: "We are currently in discussions with the RMT, however we have full contingency plans in place to ensure no disruption to travelling passengers during this period."

A FGW spokesman said previous strikes "had no impact on train services" and the company was continuing to work with MITIE "to ensure they could meet their contractual obligations".

FGW operates trains across the Western region, carrying 1.5m passengers every week on 9,000 services and calling at 276 stations.

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