PROTESTERS put the pressure on First Great Western and Mitie yesterday when a 70-strong crowd bearing placards, banners and megaphones descended on Swindon.

Coaches bussed in members of the Railway, Maritime and Transport Workers union from London Paddington, Swansea, Cardiff, Bristol and Westbury to the headquarters of FGW in Milford Street.

The protest by railway workers employed by Mitie on behalf of FGW, was against low pay and zero hours contracts.

It was held in the middle of the third strike in four weeks.

The strikers walked out at 6am on Thursday and were due to return today at 6am.

Bill Leckey, 65, of Ridge Nether Moor, in Liden, is a retired train dispatcher at Swindon train station.

He attended yesterday’s protest as a representative of the RMT.

“Our workers are on zero hours contracts and they want better conditions. They want more hours and more security,” he said.

“People will wake up next Friday and not have a job to do, which is the danger of these contracts which Mitie hand out.

“People are working one week and then sat at home the next.

“There is no holiday pay, no sick pay. It is an infringement of their human rights.

“They want this service brought in-house by First Great Western, that is why we are here, outside their offices.”

Brendan Kelly, RMT’s regional organiser for the south west and South Wales, said Mitie had made an offer earlier this week to return to the negotiation table and hold meaningful talks.

A spokesman for Mitie, said: “We are currently in discussions with the RMT. However we have full contingency plans in place to ensure no disruption to passengers during this period.”

A spokesman for FGW said: “Our position is the same it’s always been, ultimately this has got to be resolved by those striking and their employer sitting down and talking around the table.

“We were there at the protest to take delivery of the letter that the RMT were wanting to give to us and I am sure we will respond when we have time to look at it properly.

“We are aware of the conversation going on between the RMT and Mitie. It is their employers, Mitie, who must resolve this.

“The only advice we have given to both, is that they need to sit down and come to an agreement on it.

“We do have cleaners in-house on some areas of the network according to need. This is an issue between Mitie and the RMT.”