Workers who clean First Great Western trains as well as scores of railway stations are to be balloted on industrial action in a dispute over pay.

Members of the Rail Maritime and Transport union employed by contractors Mitie will vote in the coming weeks on whether to launch a campaign of strikes.

The union said the cleaners, who work on trains and stations across the company’s routes including those out of London Paddington to South Wales and the South West, had been offered a pay rise of 1.25% for last year and 1% for this year, well below the current 5.5% rate of RPI inflation.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “While company shareholders have been paid dividends of 10.8% off the backs of their workforce, our cleaner members on Mitie’s First Great Western contract have been offered a pathetic 1% this year – a massive kick in the teeth for staff already fighting to exist on low rates of pay.

“We are campaigning for a strong yes vote in this ballot to send a clear message to the company that our members will not bend the knee and accept this attack on their standards of living.

“It is down to the company to come back to us with a proper pay offer that treats our cleaner members with the respect that they deserve.”