London Daily

Focus on the big picture.

Rail reform needed before workers' pay increases, says transport secretary

Rail reform needed before workers' pay increases, says transport secretary

Striking rail workers need to accept reforms to see their pay increase, the transport secretary has said.

RMT union members are holding a series of strikes over the festive period while trying to negotiate more money to match rising inflation.

But Mark Harper said workplace reforms were the only way to "free up" funding to do this.

The RMT called on Mr Harper to "facilitate" negotiations on a new pay deal between the union and rail bosses.
Speaking on the

Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg show, Mr Harper said: "It is the reforms that free up the savings that then unlock the ability for the companies to make an offer to the trade unions on pay.

"Both of those things have to happen in parallel.

"I do not have a bottomless pit of taxpayers' money to throw at this problem."

Any money saved through reforms would have to be split "fairly between the taxpayer and the people who work in the industry", Mr Harper added.

The government used £16bn of taxpayers' money to keep services running as passenger numbers plummeted during the Covid-19 lockdowns, at one point reaching a 150-year low.

Latest figures show rail travel in November 20% lower than over the the same period before the pandemic hit the UK.

Mr Harper said there had been "quite a lot of progress" in negations between the trade unions and train operating companies and Network Rail.

Mick Lynch met with Mark Harper last week


RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: "We have heard all of this before from other ministers

"We need Mr Harper to make his role as facilitator tangible and real."

He called on him to give rail companies "mandates that enable them to make an offer that will create a settlement".

RMT, which represents workers such as guards and signalling staff, has already held eight days of strikes since June which have caused widespread disruption.

Along with other rail unions, its members want pay rises in line with the surging cost of living. Inflation - the rate at which prices rise - hit 11.1% last month.

RMT says members working for train companies have been subject to "pay freezes, threats to jobs and attacks on their terms and conditions".

Network Rail plans to shed 1,900 maintenance jobs as it tries to make £2bn of savings over the next two years. The body, which manages all of Great Britain's railway infrastructure, said it hoped to cut the jobs through voluntary means.

The rail industry say reforms are also needed to modernise the railway and make pay rises affordable.



Strikes will be staged across four 48-hour periods on 13-14 and 16-17 December, and 3-4 and 6-7 January.

Some 40,000 workers will walk out and there is likely to be disruption in the days around the strikes due to trains not being in the right places.

British Trades Union Congress general secretary Frances O'Grady told the BBC there was "a deal to be done" between the unions and rail bosses.

A deal "takes goodwill, good faith and people around the table, but it also takes clarity," Ms O'Grady said.

She added that there had been a recent "change in tone" from the government after Grant Shapps was removed as transport secretary in September.

Mr Shapps, who is now business secretary, publicly clashed with rail unions earlier in the year when he refused to get involved in negotiations. Both of Mr Shapps successors, Anne-Marie Trevelyan and Mr Harper, have met with union leaders.


Transport Secretary Mark Harper says the UK does not have "a proper seven-day railway"


Newsletter

Related Articles

London Daily
0:00
0:00
Close
UK Labour Government's Legislative Agenda
UK Labour Government to Regulate Powerful AI Models
Record Heat Temperatures in Ukraine Amid Power Crisis
UK Government Plans to Remove 92 Hereditary Peers from House of Lords
King Charles III Delivers Labour Government's First King's Speech
Officials Remove 'Disastrous' Label from Liz Truss's Mini-Budget
Keir Starmer Outlines Ambitious Plans for Government
Japan to Allocate $3.3 Billion to Ukraine Using Frozen Russian Assets
EU Parliament Condemns Hungarian PM's Russia Visit
FBI Struggles to Find Motive Behind Trump Shooting Incident
Kremlin Criticizes EU Rejection of Orban’s Ukraine Peace Proposal
Google and Microsoft Now Consume More Power Than Several Large Countries
Secret Service Criticized for Lack of Sniper Protection During Trump Shooting
US Senator Robert Menendez Found Guilty of Corruption
Deep Concerns about Political Violence as US Approaches Election Day
Trump Media Shares Surge Following Re-Election Bid Boost
The gunman who attempted to assassinate Donald Trump Saturday is 20-year-old Thomas Matthew Crooks
Banksy's Influence on Port Talbot's Street Art Scene
Bodies of Two Men Found in Suitcases on Bristol Bridge, 24-Year-Old Arrested
Kate Middleton to Attend Wimbledon Men's Final Amid Cancer Recovery
Russia's Electronic Warfare Neutralizes Western Weapons in Ukraine
Trump Challenges Biden to Debate and Golf Match
Macron Accuses Israeli Minister of Election Interference
US Senator Highlights Weaknesses in Western Military Industry During Ukraine Conflict
George Clooney Urges Biden to Withdraw from Presidential Race
Political Shift in the UK: A Detailed Analysis of Labour's Victory and Future Prospects
Viktor Orbán's Peace Mission: A Diplomatic Controversy in the EU
India Advocates Peace and Prosperity: PM Modi's Speech in Austria
New UK PM Keir Starmer Reaffirms Strong Support for Ukraine at NATO Summit
Spain PM Pedro Sanchez Denounces Double Standards on Gaza at NATO Summit
UK Police Arrest Suspect in Crossbow Attack After Three Women Killed
Sunita Williams Safe on ISS, to Address Earth on July 10
Biden Affirms Commitment To Presidential Race
France Faces Political Turmoil and Airport Strikes Ahead of Paris Olympics 2024
Putin Hosts PM Modi for a Private Meeting
TSMC: The Taiwanese Chip Giant Valued Over $1 Trillion
Boeing Pleads Guilty Over 737 MAX Crashes
2024 Predicted to Be World's Hottest Year
Iran's President-Elect Masoud Pezeshkian Reiterates Support for Hezbollah
White House Denies Biden Being Treated for Parkinson's Disease
Biden to Meet New UK Prime Minister Keir Starmer
Biden Insists on Continuing Presidential Race Amid Criticism
UK Defence Minister Pledges Enhanced Support to Ukraine
French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal Resigns After Election Setback
Macron Faces New Political Challenges Despite Election Relief
France's Far-Right Falls Short in Parliamentary Elections
Key Figures in France's Left-Wing New Popular Front Bloc
England Reaches Euro 2024 Semifinals After Penalty Shootout Win
Rishi Sunak Apologizes After Historic Tory Defeat
Voter Discontent in Recent UK and French Elections
×