Brandon Lewis has been criticized for referring to train drivers’ wages while discussing the RMT rail strike – just a day after Boris Johnson did the same.
The Northern Ireland Secretary appeared on Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday where he said train drivers earn between £56,000 and £70,000.
He added that the dispute – which sparked industrial action on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday – is a “problem between the employer and the unions” and that people want to see a resolution.
However, Mr Lewis’ use of the higher figures train drivers earn would be misleading as most are represented by another union, ASLEF, while the RMT acts on behalf of lower paid workers such as train cleaners and guards.
In an interview in Kigali, Rwanda, the Prime Minister made a similar comment while lamenting the strike and wages of train drivers.
He received a quick online response from RMT, who said on Twitter: ‘Can someone please tell the man with the gold wallpaper this is not a train drivers’ strike !”
For example, train guards earn between £23,000 and £36,000 while track maintenance staff receive a salary of between £16,000 and £34,000.
RMT boss Mick Lynch has repeatedly argued that most of the staff involved in the pay and conditions dispute with Network Rail and the rail operating companies were being paid between £25,000 and £30,000.
According to the ONS, the median household disposable income in the UK in 2021 was £31,400.
After the latest walkout on Saturday, Mr Lynch did not rule out further strike action with few signs of a breakthrough in talks between the union and train operators.
Speaking outside Euston station on a picket line, he said: ‘We are not ruling out strikes, but we have no date set for strike action.
“We’re going to review with our national executive next week, who’s been around the country this week on the picket line, so we’re all going to get the union leaders together and see where we’re at.”
“We are not going to set any dates immediately and we will continue to work constructively with the companies to reach an agreement, but it is a very difficult challenge at the moment because of the agenda they have and the effects they want on our members.