Rail reforms ‘only way’ to make pay rises possible—Minister

Pay disputes ++ The transport secretary Mark Harper has warned that railway industry reforms are essential if pay is to be increased, and that he has no ‘bottomless pit of taxpayers’ money to throw at this problem’. Among the reforms being called for are changes to working practices at Network Rail and the rumoured closure of many ticket offices. Speaking on the BBC, 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.’ Train operators in England are no longer independent franchises but tightly-bound contractors, and any changes to pay will need government approval. Mr Harper has said he has ‘a role in the process’ but that he would not be doing detailed negotiations, although there had been ‘quite a lot of progress’. He was speaking as the RMT prepares to stage two pairs of 48-hour strikes in December and January. During an interview on Sky TV, Mr Harper added: ‘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.’

‘Chaos’ warning ++ Train services in the north of England are close to collapsing into ‘utter chaos’ within a few weeks, according to members of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership. They are calling on transport secretary Mark Harper to take action, because they say the present problems are ‘wreaking havoc’. The government has said it is investing billions in the region’s transport, but services provided by TransPennine Express, Northern and Avanti West Coast are continuing to be unreliable, although improvements have been predicted when the timetables change next month. Juergen Maier, who is a vice chair of the Partnership and and a former Siemens UK chief executive, said the government had failed to ‘use only the levers it can pull’.

source= http://www.railnews.co.uk/news/2022/11/28-rail-reforms-only-way-to.html