Our Ref: BR1/3/1

25th November 2020

Dear Colleague


I have received a report from our Lead Officer and number of you and your colleagues that you have been instructed to wear high visibility (HV) vests. The HV vests currently have a statement on the back with the words ‘GWR Cleaning Heroes’ written across the vests. Understandably, you and your colleagues feel that the statement on the back is inappropriate, patronising and is likely to expose you to ridicule and potential abuse. It is incredibly disappointing as other suggestions, such as ‘Key Worker’, were also proposed. However, the company felt that ‘GWR Cleaning Heroes’ was appropriate.

The union has been in discussion with both companies, with Servest and GWR pointing the blame at each other. I have advised both companies that these empty platitudes and inappropriate vests are simply a show piece and provide no form of personal protective equipment or function other than to parade around cleaning staff for PR purposes.

If GWR truly believed you were heroes they should be offering you equal pay as those directly employed by GWR, a decent sick pay scheme, parity on holiday entitlement and travel facilities. I have demanded that GWR start treating you and your colleagues with respect and dignity and offer you what you deserve, not pointless vests, but, decent terms and conditions.

During discussions with Servest, the company blamed the GWR cleaning contract manager and advised the union that they are unable to withdraw these vests due to GWR interference.

The National Executive Committee has considered this matter has expressed their disappointment at both companies’ actions. The NEC has instructed me to produce badges and materials to highlight the issue that you are currently facing and to ballot you and your colleagues for industrial action. Therefore, I have advised Servest and GWR that we are currently in dispute and that the necessary actions for a ballot are being taken. In order to ensure a swift ballot and so you have a chance to vote, I urge you to confirm your membership details are correct. If your job title, address or workplace has recently changed, then please contact the RMT Helpline by Email at; Alternatively, you can call the RMT Freephone Helpline number on 0800 376 3706. Additionally, if you know a colleague who has recently moved or changed their employment please ask them to contact the union on one of the above methods.

The union will continue to monitor this situation and once I have further details I will contact you.

Yours sincerely

Mick Cash
General Secretary