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Friday 11th
posted by Peter Lazenby in Britain

RMT accuse rail firm of treating staff 'abysmally'

A privatised rail network faces total shutdown after staff opted for a strike ballot following an industrial relations breakdown.

First Great Western operates services linking Greater London, the south-east, south-west, West Midlands and south Wales.

This week the Transport Department granted the company a two-year extension to its lucrative franchise - despite an increasing failure to fulfil timetables.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) is already balloting the service's 130 cleaners, who work for privateer Mitie, over pay.

The new ballot involves 2,500 directly employed staff including drivers, guards, station staff and catering workers.

RMT accused the firm of treating staff "abysmally."

General secretary Bob Crow said: "RMT FGW members have had enough of being kicked from pillar to post and management should be under no illusion that unless a satisfactory agreement is reached on all of these issues the union will continue with a campaign of industrial and political action until such time as the collapse in industrial relations is resolved.

"With First securing a highly lucrative extension to their Great Western contract last week there is no excuse for them to blame the failure to reach agreement on the uncertainty over the franchise.

"It is also clear as day that they have the money available now to employ adequate numbers of permanent staff and to treat them with dignity and respect in every workplace."

He accused the company of a "catalogue of contempt" towards employees.

First Great Western is part of a multinational transport operation in Europe and north America.