Great Western Railway customers face fresh disruption as cleaners stage two one-day walkouts on run-up to Christmas

Oliver Gill
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Rail users on GWR may be forced into drastic measures if toilets are not serviced during the scheduled industrial action by cleaners (Source: Getty)

Rail commuters are facing another layer of disruption after unions announced cleaners will go on strike on the run up to Christmas.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) today announced after a "massive yes vote" cleaners would walk out on 16 and 23 December – 109 members voted in favour of the action.

Employees of Servest UK working on the Great Western Railway (GWR) franchise are currently in a dispute over a range of working conditions including the provision of safety clothing.

Read more: Taking the piss: How Network Rail is cashing in on the Southern strikes

Exactly how train services will be impacted remains to be seen, although rail users will be pleased to hear station owner Network Rail has scrapped charging for using some London station toilets – so with toilets not likely to be up to their usual top-notch standards over the next two Fridays, commuters may want to pre-empt any need to spend a penny (not literally).

“Our cleaner members have voted decisively for action on GWR. RMT will not stand by while they are mercilessly exploited by privateers, while rail companies fill their coffers as fares soar through the roof," said Mick Cash the general secretary of the RMT.

The news comes as south-east Britain is preparing for double-whammy of strike action.

RMT members have abstaining from work on a regular basis for a large proportion of 2016 as part of an ongoing dispute with Southern rail over who owns the train doors – the driver or a guard.

Read more: Southern Rail strikes: Everything you need to know

Drivers union Aslef last week announced a ban on working overtime – a vitally important element of flexibility on the nation's rail network – and themselves have walkouts planned for this week and next. This week's action by Aslef will mean Southern rail will not be able to run any trains.

In relation to the GWR dispute, the RMT balloted 189 members and had a 58 per cent turnout. 98 per cent voted for strike action and exactly the same percentage voted for action short of a strike in the ballot.

City A.M. has approached GWR for comment but has not received a response at the time of writing.

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