London

Heathrow Express contract staff face strike ballot

A Heathrow Express train at Paddington Station in London
Image caption The union said contract staff were not being offered the same deal as directly employed workers

A rail union will ballot contract staff at Heathrow Express for strike action in a dispute over pay and bonuses for working during the Olympic Games.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) said cleaning, facilities, asset management and mechanical engineering staff would be balloted.

Last month Heathrow Express said it had put in place a Games reward scheme.

But the union said contractors were not being offered the same deal as directly employed staff.

Bosses at the rail link between the airport and Paddington station said workers would get a bonus if extra passenger volumes and revenues were experienced on specific "peak" days during the 2012 Games period.

'Blatant unfairness'

But the RMT said contractors employed by Amey Rail and BAA were not being offered the bonus.

Amey Rail and BAA, which owns Heathrow Express, are both part of the Ferrovial group.

A spokeswoman for Amey said: "Amey is disappointed with the RMTs decision to ballot its members for strike action, as the negotiations are ongoing.

"We are committed to avoiding any industrial action and continue to negotiate a fair employment package for our Hex (Heathrow Express) employees."

A Heathrow Express spokesperson said industrial action by RMT members working for Amey would not affect the running of the Heathrow Express service.

The RMT said contract staff had been offered a 1.75% pay increase, which it viewed as a "cut to standards of living".

Union general secretary Bob Crow said: "Here we have yet another group of contracted workers in the rail industry who are being told to take a hit on their pay and working conditions while the companies who employ them look to widen their profit margins.

"RMT members have rightly said that they will not put up with this blatant unfairness and have asked us to organise a ballot for action.

"The scandal of exploitation and profiteering on Britain's railways is once again blown open in this dispute and RMT will be organising and campaigning for a massive yes vote in the ballot."

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