Pay rises can't match inflation, minister tells rail workers

1 week ago 24

Mark Harper, Transport Minister

Image caption,

Mark Harper said "economic circumstances" prevented inflation-matching pay rises

Pay rises that match the surging cost of living will not be possible, the new transport minister has told striking rail workers

Mark Harper said he "completely understands" why unions want inflation-linked wage increases but said "economic circumstances" prevented it.

It came as he agreed to help unions to try to reach a deal with train firms ahead of fresh strikes this Christmas.

RMT union boss Mick Lynch called their meeting "positive".

Mr Harper's two predecessors had refused to get involved in the dispute, although the minister said it was not his role to do the "detailed negotiations".

"I do accept I have a role in this process, which is to try to encourage the two sides to come to an agreement and also to make sure there's a free flow of information and the process moves along as quickly as we can," he told the BBC.

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