Interserve cleaning staff to vote on strike action amid union complaints of ‘culture of fear’ at Network Rail stations
Interserve cleaning staff at Network Rail stations are preparing to vote on strike action after the firm allegedly imposed a “culture of fear,” according to the RMT union.
The rail union said this morning it would ballot around 300 facilities management workers for strike action after it received complaints of bullying from its members.
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Staff at stations from the Midlands to the south coast will vote on the action amid claims of “bullying and harassment” from management, as well as “victimisation” of union representatives. The outsourcer has disputed the claims.
Interserve management has also allegedly refused RMT access to its work places at several locations “in an attempt to stop union representatives from carrying out their basic trade union functions.”
A source close to the matter told City A.M. there was “significant appetite” among workers for the strike to go ahead, and a vote would occur in the next few weeks.
But Interserve strongly rebuffed the claims.
A spokesperson said: “RMT has offered no evidence to substantiate the sweeping allegations made and has refused to engage in dialogue with Interserve despite repeated attempts inviting it to do so.
“The health, safety and wellbeing of our employees is of the highest priority to us and we have comprehensive policies and procedures in place to safeguard this."
The outsourcer’s facilities management arm remained solvent as parent company Interserve Plc went into administration earlier this month, after shareholders voted down a rescue deal designed to relieve it of a £630m debt pile.
It embarked on a new chapter as a private company last week, as its shares were removed from the London Stock Exchange after the administration. Its stock value had plummeted nearly 95 per cent in the last year from a high of 117p to 6p when stocks were suspended on Friday 15 March.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: “There is a culture of fear and bullying rife within Interserve and it has got to stop.
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“Staff should not be frightened to approach their union and members should not feel victimised for being part of the RMT and yet that is exactly what is happening.”
Workers at the NHS and the Foreign Office are among the outsourcer’s 39,000 UK employees, and 70 per cent of its annual £2.9bn turnover comes from the government.