Scotland Times

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

UK minister warns public workers to brace for real-term pay cuts amid rail strikes

UK minister warns public workers to brace for real-term pay cuts amid rail strikes

No 10 urges private sector firms against giving out pay rises as inflation feared to rise above 10%

Most public sector workers should expect a real-terms pay cut this year, a minister has said ahead of the biggest rail strikes in 30 years, with Downing Street warning private employers against giving out pay rises.

With inflation feared to potentially rise above 10% by the end of the year, No 10 urged private sector firms not to hike wages as it would make the issue worse.

Simon Clarke, the chief secretary to the Treasury, said the government would “continue to support” negotiations between rail companies and unions but did not have a direct role in trying to prevent the biggest rail strikes in three decades, which were due to start on Monday night.

“I do think it’s important that we send a message this week that industrial action is likely to proceed, and therefore people make sensible preparations now, because there’s no point giving false hope, if you like, that these strikes can be avoided. At this stage it is likely that they will proceed,” he told BBC One’s Breakfast programme.

Ministers have faced calls to do more to try to prevent three planned 24-hour walkouts this week by RMT members, the first of which starts just after midnight on Tuesday morning. This will result in only one in five trains running on strike days, halting services altogether in much of northern and south-west England, Wales and Scotland.

No 10 said on Monday afternoon it “wouldn’t be helpful” for ministers to join the negotiations at this stage, and government sources have indicated they believe union leaders are just “flexing their muscles”.

Downing street also urged private sector organisations to show restraint in awarding pay rises.

Boris Johnson’s spokesperson said that given inflation was nudging double digits, “we need to, as a country, avoid doing anything that would stoke inflationary pressures further”.

They said there were “a number of factors that could stoke inflation that people need to be mindful of” and that “pay rises could be one of those areas that could be of detriment and it’s important that people understand the balance we are trying to strike”.

Johnson’s spokesperson also admitted that his pledge of a “high-wage” economy remained more of an objective given the “short- to medium-term inflationary pressures”.

They said: “The government needs to adapt to some of the global challenges we’re seeing caused by exiting a pandemic and war in Europe. But that does not change our ambition.”

Clarke, in an interview with Sky News, said: “The government doesn’t sit as part of those talks for a very good reason. We don’t intervene in the specific process between an employer and the unions representing employees, but we are there to provide the support and the enabling framework for those talks to succeed. Ultimately, we don’t control all the levers that need to be held here.”

The strike has been called over feared job losses amid restructuring, and concerns that inflation forecast to reach 11% this year would mean staff getting a real-terms pay cut. Other professions, including teachers, could take potential action over below-inflation pay rises.

Clarke said people should not have “unrealistic expectations” about pay, and that those in the public and private sectors should brace themselves for real-terms pay cuts this year.

“In the current situation with inflation, which is a real issue, we do have to be very, very sensitive,” he told Sky.

“If we start having pay awards that take us close to double digits, then we are going to see this problem prolong. That is just the economic reality of where we find ourselves at the moment.”

John Leach, the assistant general secretary of the RMT union, said members would seek “justice for themselves”.

“They kept this country moving through the pandemic, they keep the railways moving every single day and it’s that kind of grit and determination that’s going to mean that they will stick with this negotiation and justice for themselves in that regard, right through to the end,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Newsletter

Related Articles

Scotland Times
0:00
0:00
Close
UK Island Orkney council to look at proposals to become territory of Norway
Woman Awarded Over £100,000 After Being Fired for Transgender Tweet
A provocative study suggests: Left-Wing Extremism and its Unsettling Connection to Psychopathy and Narcissism
A Real woman
Brand new security footage has just been released to the public showing the Active shooter Audrey Elizabeth Hale drove to Covenant Church School in her Honda Fit this morning, parked, and shot her way into the building
China's foreign ministry branch in Hong Kong urges British gov't to stop the biased and double standards Hong Kong report
Double standards: UK lawmakers attack EU chief over Ireland claims
Democracy? Not for UK. UK PM rejects Scottish independence referendum, cancel democracy in BVI
UK urged to brace for economic storm
Women's own body dissatisfaction appears to influence their judgment of other women's body sizes
Prince William To Move Family Into Cottage Near Queen Elizabeth II
BOOOOOOS: Tony Blair receives royal honour
Captured Britons sentenced to death in Ukraine
Barbados PM Mia A. Mottley among Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People
Today's headlines
"Just One Of the Boys In School:" Years That Shaped Prince Charles
BVI Premier Rubbishes Claim Of Causing COI Delay
Comments on "Human Intelligence in a Digital Age" - A brilliant Speech by MI6 Chief Richard Moore, and the elephants neglected in the room
Bitcoin: BoE Deputy Gov wants to cancel democracy and protect the banks with regulations which infringe on people’s freedom, independence and benefits they get from their own money.
What are the Pandora Papers?
Taiwan-China relations at their 'worst in 40 years'
The attempt to hold Epik.com accountable for the content of its clients' websites is like blaming Gutenberg for the NYT's fake news that dragged the US into the pointless war against the nuclear weapons Iraq never had
×