FOREST of Dean MP Mark Harper is “pleased” that the government is working to remove roadworks across the country in a bid to reduce congestion over the festive period, as the standoff with the RMT Union over rail workers' pay continues.

National Highways teams will be working “around the clock” to remove almost 900 miles of roadworks in time for Christmas in an attempt to ease travel disruption amid national rail strikes which began last week.

It comes after RMT Union general secretary Mick Lynch accused the government of “refusing to lift a finger” to prevent the strikes after RMT members voted to reject a pay offer from Network Rail last Monday (December 12).

Transport Secretary Mr Harper said: “Being stuck in traffic can take the joy out of travelling home over the festive period.

“Given the disruption expected from the transport unions’ strike action and cold weather, I’m pleased that we could act to remove these roadworks - reducing congestion and helping people with their important journeys this Christmas.”

RMT members from Network Rail voted "overwhelmingly" to reject the latest pay offer from company bosses.

It means that strike action - continuing this week from 6pm on Christmas Eve until 6am on December 27, and into the new year - remains on for both Network Rail and the 14 train operating companies.

General Secretary Mick Lynch commented: "This is a huge rejection of Network Rail's substandard offer and shows that our members are determined to take further strike action in pursuit of a negotiated settlement. 

"The government is refusing to lift a finger to prevent these strikes and it is clear they want to make effective strike action illegal in Britain. 

"We will resist that and our members, along with the entire trade union movement will continue their campaign for a square deal for workers, decent pay increases and good working conditions."