Minister calls for 'restraint' on public sector pay rises as crippling train strike looms

25 May 2022, 09:19

By Daisy Stephens

A Government minister has called for "restraint" on public sector pay increases after the RMT backed plans for the biggest railway strike in decades.

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Environment secretary George Eustice told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast that the vote to support strike action was a "mistake" and said train staff, some of whom already get higher than average salaries but are asking for an 11 per cent pay rise, needed to exercise "restraint".

"Pay for those working on the railways is often higher than in any other walks of life, so a train driver at the moment will usually get around £59,000 a year," said Mr Eustice.

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"They've seen some rises in their salaries during the last decade when others haven't really.

"So we've got to show some restraint on public sector pay and the railways are no different in that matter.

"During the pandemic there had to be a huge government subsidy to keep the railway network going and as we come out of the pandemic we've now go to work on making sure it's viable and it's got the right reforms in place."

It came just months after MPs received a £2,200 pay rise, taking the base pay to £84,144.

Mr Eustice said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps wanted to work "constructively" with unions and said the strike action would be "premature because there's still discussions that are taking place".

"I think [the vote] is a mistake," he said.

"They've jumped the gun slightly.

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"There are still plans that we are working on to try and reform the way elements of the railways work."

He said a number of changes, such as scrapping ticket offices, were needed in order to keep up with technology.

"We've got to be willing to be open to some of these changes and reforms," he said.

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