The Transport Secretary Mark Harper has told the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union that the government does not have ‘a bottomless pit of taxpayers’ money to offer pay deals which matches inflation.
Harper said it is simply “unaffordable” but he did hint there could be progress in talks over the strikes after having “positive” talks with the RMT union general secretary Mick Lynch.
Harper told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme, “Inflation matching or inflation busting pay rises are unaffordable.
“I think we want to try and give all the workers in the public sector who work very hard decent pay rises, but they can’t be inflation-busting pay rises.
“There simply isn’t the money to pay for those given the context, we haven’t seen those in the private sector either, the private sector pay rises have generally been settled below the level of inflation, which I accept is difficult for people.”
Speaking with the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg on Sunday morning, he said that rail bosses “will have the ability to reach a deal.”
Harper added, “But we have to be able to have that reform package negotiated, because it’s only that that throws up the savings.
“I do not have a bottomless pit of taxpayers’ money to throw at this problem.”