Rail minister admits settling dispute cheaper than allowing strikes to continue

Rail minister admits settling dispute cheaper than allowing strikes to continue

18 January 2023

RMT Press Office:

RMT writes to business leaders accusing the government of using them as "collateral damage" following Huw Merriman's admission to the Transport Select Committee.

The rail minister was asked if it had cost more to the government and the economy to bankroll the dispute than it would have done to settle it earlier.

Mr Merriman replied:

“If you look at it in that particular lens then absolutely. It’s actually ended up costing more than would have been the case if it had just been settled in that part but again we have to look at the overall impact on the public sector pay deals that are going across, and we also have to look on the ability for the reforms that don’t often get talked about, but they’re absolutely vital as part of the package.”

In the letter to business leaders, whose companies have been impacted by the rail strikes, RMT general secrertary Mick Lynch wrote: “Today the government admitted that prolonging the rail dispute was part of a deliberate strategy that was dictated by the government’s concern to keep down the pay of rail workers, nurses, ambulance workers and teachers.

“The wider economy and the business interests who relied on pre-Christmas trade were just collateral damage in that policy.

“For months, this government insisted it had no role in the dispute while it paid the costs of the train operating companies and then intervened just before Christmas to torpedo the talks and ensure there was no settlement.

“RMT has settled dozens of disputes on parts of the national railway where the DfT has no involvement, including with devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and many areas where the transport is the responsibility of the metro mayors.

“But in this dispute, the interests of businesses, rail workers and passengers have been sacrificed to a wider public sector pay agenda.

“I am sure you will want to write to the Minister making the strongest representations about this issue.”



The letter was sent to the following organisations:

Confederation of British Industry

Institute of Directors


British Beer and Pub Association

British Retail Consortium

British Chambers of Commerce

Federation of Small Businesses

Society of London Theatre & UK Theatre

Society of London Theatre & UK Theatre

Night Time Industries Association

Central District Alliance

Heart of London Business Alliance

Soho Estates

London HQ

New West End Company

Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA)

Soho Business Alliance

Heart of London Business Alliance

Hippodrome Casino


Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

Stonegate Group

Inception Group

Revolution Bars Group

Urban Pubs & Bars

ETM Group

Drake & Morgan

City Pub Company

Young and Co.’s Brewery PLC

Tourism Alliance

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Tagged with: Defend Rail Jobs Pay and Conditions, National Rail Dispute, Rail Union, RMT, Mick Lynch, Huw Merriman