STRIKING cleaners protested outside the headquarters of Great Western Railway (GWR) yesterday as part of a bitter dispute with their agency employer.
Over 200 members of rail union RMT held banners and shouted “Fair pay now,” accusing subcontractor Servest UK of bullying and undervaluing staff as they staged the first of two 24-hour strikes from 6am.
The delegation handed in a petition to the train operator’s office in Swindon.
The dispute covers a wide range of issues, including pay, annual leave and GWR’s use of agency workers.
Union rep Sharon Petrie told the Star: “This dispute is about how they treat us. We don’t get anything for holidays and we don’t get sick pay.”
The union is calling for agency workers to be taken on by GWR to end the current situation of a two-tier workforce.
Ms Petrie added: “We work for them, we look like them and so we should treated like other Great Western staff.”
RMT national executive member Eddie Dempsey addressed workers before the demonstration, saying: “Great Western have ignored us and so we are here to talk to them.
“We want a director to come down here and talk to us, hear our demands and accept our petition.”
The cleaners are set to stage their second 24-hour strike at the same time next week.
Union officials were granted a meeting and will be contacting the company in due course to discuss the dispute.
Speaking to the Star, Mr Dempsey said: “Some of these members aren’t even given proper gloves to clean toilets with.
“GWR has to take these workers in-house and give them proper terms and conditions.”
Servest UK and Great Western Railway were unavailable for comment.