Mick Lynch accuses Tory minister of lying about transition to ‘torpedo’ rail strike talks

Rail union boss Mick Lynch accused transportation secretary Mark Harper of “not telling the truth” about negotiations aimed at ending the train strikes as new five days of industrial action begin.

The Tory cabinet minister denied the Rail, Shipping and Transport union (RMT) leader’s allegations that the government had blocked a deal before Christmas, insisting it was “absolutely untrue”.

But Mr. Lynch said Mr. Harper’s department intervened by placing “eight or nine” conditions – including driver trains only – to block an agreement on fares and conditions.

The RMT leader, whose transport minister is said to have denied the allegation, told Sky News: “He’s not telling you the truth… He can deny it all he wants – that doesn’t mean it’s not true.”

“We were making progress with the train operating companies, and then one Sunday afternoon, before the strike action, they decided to undermine the negotiations by placing conditions in the negotiations that they knew we could never accept,” Lynch said.

This was the direct intervention of government ministers. If he says it’s not, he’s not telling you the whole truth.

Nearly half of England’s rail lines are closed and thousands of RMT members and train operators at Network Rail have taken two 48-hour walkouts starting Tuesday and Friday, while only a fifth of the services are running. Drivers in the Aslef union will go on strike on Thursday.

Mr. Harper urged My Lynch and RMT leaders to “get off the strike line and turn around the negotiating table” as passengers face new setbacks.

Mr. Lynch replied, “I’ll go and see him now if he wants to. What we’ve been hearing all the time from the government is that they want to facilitate a deal but they’re not actually doing anything… When Mark Harper wants to talk, we’re available.”

The RMT general secretary urged the government to make firm proposals, saying that even railroad bosses are now “despairing” about the government’s stance. “The most senior people in the industry were just as frustrated as we were that the government didn’t facilitate a deal.”

Questioned as to why there were no talks this week, Mr. Harper said: “Because the unions have decided to go on strike this week… There is a fair and reasonable salary offer on the table. Taxpayers don’t have a bottomless pit of money here.”

The transport secretary also suggested that passengers could leave the railroads forever if the strikes continued.

“The problem is we found that 40 percent of post-pandemic passengers did not return to use the railroads,” he told Times Radio. “Union leaders who call on people to strike risk harming the industry and the workers they claim to represent.”

Transportation secretary Mark Harper (PA Wire)

Transportation secretary Mark Harper (PA Wire)

Ministers are said to fear that passengers will be permanently barred from using the trains. A government source said Times he said: “This is an act of self-harm – a generation of passengers just wipes their rails. We’re talking about permanent scars.”

The government is said to be considering offering improved vacation benefits, bonuses and retirement benefits to the RMT and other unions in an effort to end the strikes. But according to the 2019 report, the government will “stand firm” on salary. Sun.

Legislation promised to suppress strikes could reportedly be passed as soon as this month, with Rishi Sunak potentially making recommendations for minimum staffing levels in the civil service during strikes.

But Mr. Harper acknowledged that this will not prevent further strikes this winter. “Minimum level of service legislation may be something that will help in the medium term, but it will not be a solution to the rail strikes that are currently underway,” he said.

Network Rail’s chief negotiator, Tim Shoveller, said the state-owned company wanted to “work with RMT now to clarify where there were misunderstandings” about the rejected proposal, and would like to submit it to another vote by union members.

told BBC Radio 4 Today program: “We only need 2,000 people who voted no last time to change their vote, and the deal will pass. So we think it’s within touching distance.”

Kate Nicholls, CEO of UK Hospitality, said the latest strikes will make city centers “ghost cities for another week”. “It is enough; This has to end now.”

Mr. Lynch warned that there would be more strikes beyond the spring if the government did not change its stance. “We have a mandate until May and we can vote again. We don’t want to do this. We need an improvement in the proposal.”

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