This is why you may see mucky trains on the West Coast Main Line later this month

Cleaners on the West Coast main line are set to go on strike in a dispute over pay.

By Tim Gavell
Friday, 11th February 2022, 3:30 pm

Rail union, the RMT, has announced that train cleaners, who worked to keep Avanti West Coast trains clean and safe for passengers throughout the pandemic, will be taking strike action in pursuit of fair pay.

The staff are employed by Atalian Servest Limited, a multi-national outsourcing company based in France, which carries out the cleaning as a sub-contractor of Alstom which holds the contract with Avanti.

The outsourced cleaners are paid £9.68 per hour, less than the Real Living Wage and have no company sick pay, meaning that they frequently come into work when sick because they cannot make ends meet.

Cleaners working for the firm which cleans Avanti West Coast trains are set to go on strike

Atalian Servest have refused to make an offer that would raise pay above the Real Living Wage rate of £9.90, with their latest offer amounting to an just additional 6p per hour for most staff (especially those outside London).

The union has called two 48 hour strikes. The first is from 7.30pm on Thursday, February 24 to 7.29pm on Saturday, February 26.

The second is due from 7.30pm on Thursday, March 10 to 7.29pm on Saturday, March 12.

According to RMT research, last year Atalian Servest Ltd’s holding company paid a dividend to its French parent company of £10.8m, a sum that would pay for more than 300 cleaners to get a pay rise to £11 an hour 12 times over and £15 an hour three times over.

RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said: “Our cleaner members on Avanti West Coast trains have been left with no choice but to take further strike action. Previous strike action in January was solidly supported across both days.

“We have now called two 48 hour strikes to remind privateer Atalian Servest that this issue is not going away and their latest paltry offer was an insult to our members.

“The people who clean our railways are heroes who risk their lives and health every day to keep our essential services running but the way Atalian Servest is treating its workers on West Coast trains is an utter disgrace.

“While the dividends are siphoned off abroad, cleaners are expected to put up with poverty wages and live in fear of destitution if they get sick. It’s shameful that we’re driven to strike action to win such basic justice.

“Atalian Servest need to make these heroes a better offer and Avanti need to take responsibility because they are complicit in this gross exploitation.”

An Avanti West Coast spokesman said: “We’re disappointed by the decision to proceed with industrial action. Although the dispute is between the RMT and Atalian Servest, and not with us, we are working alongside our partners to implement a contingency plan.

"There will be no impact on the services we are running in our timetable.”

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