THE Union which represents rail workers says ministers including Forest MP Mark Harper have “abdicated their responsibility” for sorting out rail strikes by blocking employers from making a deal with them.

Industrial action from RMT Union members, which includes workers from 14 train companies and Network Rail, went ahead as planned between December 24 and 27, with further strikes planned in the new year.

The RMT has repeatedly criticised Mr Harper’s handling of the situation as Secretary of State for Transport, saying on Friday (December 23) that since a meeting in the previous week, there had been no further negotiations to try to prevent upcoming strikes on Network Rail.

The union said it had done deals in every part of the railway network where the Department for Transport is not involved.

A statement from RMT said: “Both pay offers from Network Rail and the train operating companies are well below what has been agreed in Scotland, Wales and where metro mayors have control of the rail franchise.

The rejected offer on Network Rail was also conditional on ripping up working conditions for railway workers, including unsafe practices for the travelling public such as a 50 per cent cut in scheduled maintenance tasks and an unacceptable hike in unsocial hours.

“On the train operators, RMT members would have been forced to accept a paltry pay sum, Driver Only Operations (DOO) across the whole network, and the closure of all ticket offices creating an inaccessible and less safe railway.” 

Mr Harper said this month that the government would not be backing down in its standoff with the RMT.

That position was reiterated by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who said the government had been “fair and reasonable” in its approach to negotiations.