London

Tube cleaners may strike over pay, says RMT union

Tube trains sit at a depot in Morden, south London
Image caption The union says its members have been "treated like dirt"

Cleaners on London Underground are to be balloted for strikes in disputes over pay, pensions and benefits.

The Rail Maritime and Transport union (RMT) said its members - employed by contractors ISS and Initial - would vote shortly.

The union said its members had been "treated like dirt" and said they deserved a fairer deal.

ISS said it was "surprised and disappointed", adding that the union had not attended meetings on the issue.

But general secretary Bob Crow said: "Once again RMT is forced to move to a ballot for industrial action to secure a fair deal for our members and to end the exploitation of these groups of staff who work round the clock in the most appalling conditions to keep the Tube running.

"In the run-up to the Olympics, it is simply scandalous the staff who will be keeping the transport system clean for the millions of visitors to this city are being treated like dirt."

'Disregard process'

In a statement, ISS said staff had received wage increases of more than 30% over the past two years.

"This action by RMT disregards the process set out in the recognition agreement we signed with it just nine months ago and has been made before we have had opportunity to properly engage in discussion with it," said the statement.

"Three meetings were organised between ISS and the RMT and the RMT did not attend the second, despite being held at its offices. The third is due this Friday.

"If the RMT attends the meeting we have arranged, we are confident that we can reach a mutually agreeable solution."

It comes as RMT members who maintain the Northern, Jubilee and Piccadilly lines continued with a strike over pensions.

They walked out at 16:00 BST on Tuesday and are not due to return to work until Friday.

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