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Families face ‘virtual Christmas’ due to rail strikes, says Transport Secretary

Families face ‘virtual Christmas’ due to rail strikes, says Transport Secretary

Mark Harper hit out at rail unions, as members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union due to stage two 48-hour strikes this coming week.
The Transport Secretary has warned that some families could face a “virtual Christmas” due to rail strikes over the festive season.

Mark Harper hit out at rail unions, as members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) are due to stage two 48-hour strikes this coming week following months of industrial action over the deadlocked row.

Writing for the Telegraph newspaper, Mark Harper said: “This year, many families may have no choice but to alter their plans and have a virtual Christmas again. This isn’t due to a new public health pandemic, but because of rail strikes, planned by the RMT union to cause misery during the festive period.”

The Cabinet minister said that the “dire” situation was not “inevitable”, as he said that the RMT union could end it.

It comes as RMT general secretary Mick Lynch wrote to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, saying a meeting between the two men was now the best prospect of making any progress.

But Mr Harper said that the Government had “played its part” in attempting to bring the dispute to a close, as he placed on onus on union leadership.

He wrote: “I want this dispute to end as soon as possible. We have agreed to continue our efforts to reach a deal whilst remaining fair to the taxpayer.

“In the first few weeks of this new Government being in office, we have demonstrated that we are willing to be reasonable – to discuss matters with union leaders face to face and to try and facilitate a resolution to this dispute by enabling a new and improved pay offer to be made by the employers.”

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