The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) said today it will ballot cleaners on train lines including Southern and Southeastern for strike action.
RMT revealed it will ballot members in two separate disputes over pay and working conditions - one with Wettons, who hold the cleaning contract on Southeastern, and one with Churchills, who hold the contract on Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), which incorporates Southern, Thameslink and Great Northern.
“Rail companies who are making a fortune out of Britain’s privatised railways think nothing of treating their cleaning staff like dirt," said RMT general secretary, Mick Cash.
“These two separate disputes have a common thread and that is the attempt to lock in low pay levels for cleaners and the continuing refusal to upgrade working conditions to a humane and acceptable level."
The ballots will both open Monday, 4 September, and will offer strike action and action short of a strike.
“RMT will not allow Southern/GTR and Southeastern to wash their hands of these disputes and the issues at their core. They let these contracts to Churchills and Wettons and they have the power to demand that they treat their workforce with dignity and respect.
“RMT remains available for talks in both disputes.”
Commuters have faced a number of travel disruptions this summer, due to strike action, scheduled works and unexpected issues, including delays into London Cannon Street this morning after signalling issues at Lewisham.
Spokespeople for GTR and Southeastern encouraged the contract owners and the union to seek a solution together.
Wettons and Churchills could not be reached for comment.