The Transport Secretary says he will not negotiate with Mick Lynch

Mark Harper said unions and employers need to address their long-running dispute over wages, jobs and conditions, urging both sides to “undertake” reforms.

The transport minister has said he will not negotiate with the head of a railway union when the pair meet today (November 24), even though a new round of strikes has been announced.

Mark Harper said it was up to unions and employers to address their long-running dispute over wages, jobs and conditions. He urged both parties to “make” reforms to provide better service.

Mr. Harper is due to meet Mick Lynch, Secretary General of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) Union, this morning. Lynch said the transport secretary had a “straightforward opinion” on what the companies involved could offer his members, and accused the government of blocking a deal over the weekend.

The meeting comes after a new round of strikes was announced that is set to disrupt services over the coming months. RMT announced a series of 48-hour strikes in December and January by its Network Rail members and 14 train companies, threatening travel chaos over the festive period.

Royal Mail workers, university lecturers and teachers will also strike on Thursday. Pickup lines will be installed outside delivery and postal sorting offices.

‘These strikes are not just about paying’

Harper insisted he had “no interest” in blocking a show, telling ITV’s Robert Peston that he wanted to “help make it easier for unions and employers to come to the table to come to an agreement on reform”.

“It is the reform that generates savings that can be used to help fund employee salary increases,” he said.

He told Sky News’ The Take with Sophy Ridge he would not be entering into “pressing charges”, as he said he hoped to have a “reasonable conversation” with RMT on Thursday. He said he would not negotiate with the union, adding: “That’s very clear to the trade unions and the employers – Network Rail and the train operating companies. But I think in this case it’s important to meet with the unions. These strikes are not just about wages, they are about the long conversations that are actually going on.” About introducing reforms in the railways.

Harper said he would urge Mr. Lynch to call off the strikes and “go back to the negotiating table with the employers” to “try to come up with some of these reforms.”

I will interrogate him

Mr Lynch said the Transport Secretary was “very welcome to come around the table”.

Speaking about the government holding up a deal over the weekend, Lynch told Beeston: “The only people above these CEOs, the CEOs of the train operating companies, are Mark Harper. Now he may not have done it personally, but he has the top people at DfT who will attend to this.” meeting tomorrow.

“I’ll question him about that and his role, if he says ‘those days are over, I’ll be a facilitator, a person of good faith, good offices or whatever you want to call it,’ great. Let’s deal with it.”

Members of the Communications Workers Union (CWU) at Royal Mail will also strike on Thursday and Blackriday, which is one of the busiest days of the year for delivery companies.

British postal workers “are facing an Armageddon moment,” warned CWU general secretary Dave Ward as he urged “every member of the public to stand with their mail, support them like never before.”

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