Simon Clarke

Rail strike looms as minister says wage increases can’t keep up with inflation – UK politics live | politics

Clarke dismisses claims by airline bosses that Brexit is responsible for staff shortages affecting passengers at airports

In his Sky News interview simon clark, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, was also asked about the chaos some travelers have experienced this summer due to airport staffing shortages.

  • Clarke dismissed claims by airline bosses that Brexit was causing problems for travelers at airports. When asked if Brexit was to blame, he replied:

no I think what we’re seeing here are the results of the airline industry, which has obviously contracted massively during the pandemic and is now facing this surge in pent-up demand as things rebound. And to be honest, it is not resourced and staffed for this challenge. So I think it’s reasonable that we are now seeing some airports revise their flight schedules.

When it was pointed out that the likes of Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary and Wizz Air boss József Váradi blamed Brexit (see here and here), Clarke replied:

Ultimately, I think the British have made their views on unlimited immigration from the EU very clear. And there were very good reasons why we voted for a controlled immigration policy.

But I do not accept that this is simply a direct punch-through effect of Brexit. What I would say is that this is the result of an industry that has slimmed down massively, understandably at a time when flying was all but impossible for a year and a half, two years.

It has now massively expanded its activities and the pressure is enormous and it has failed to coordinate the two.

Clarke, a Brexiteer, is one of the ministers most reluctant to admit that Brexit has caused problems for the economy. Last year he refused to accept that Brexit was a factor in the UK’s shortage of lorry drivers – although Boris Johnson later argued that higher wages paid to lorry drivers in response to labor shortages were part of his Brexit be a bonus.

  • Clarke said airlines are currently “running flights they just can’t keep” and that it is “terrible for passengers”.

Minister suggests the Bank of England Governor was right in February to warn of the dangers of inflationary wage demands

And here are a few more lines from what simon clark, the chief secretary of the Treasury said in his morning interviews about the rail strike and bonuses in general.

  • Clarke couldn’t explain why No 10 slammed the Bank of England governor earlier this year for saying people shouldn’t expect big pay rises – when he’s saying exactly the same thing now. (See 9:21 a.m.) When asked why No. 10’s Andrew Bailey was rebuked for his comment, Clarke simply said, “Ultimately what a spokesman said is for them.” In February Bailey said:

I’m not saying nobody gets a raise, don’t get me wrong, but I think what I’m saying is that we have to exercise restraint in wage negotiations or it gets out of control.

When asked this morning if he said that people in the public sector should not expect a pay rise in line with inflation, Clarke replied: “Right.”

  • He defended the government’s decision not to be directly involved in talks between management and railway unions ahead of this week’s strike. “Ultimately, if we bring a third party into these negotiations, it’s just going to confuse things,” he told the Today programme.
  • He said the railway industry needs structural reform. He told Sky News:

The railway companies and Network Rail are committed to a sensible reform program and a sensible and fair collective agreement with the unions.

The practices that exist throughout the network are frankly off the ark and in need of reform.

It can’t be that we’ve spent £16bn as taxpayers worth £600 per household during the pandemic and still have a railway system where some of what’s going on is happening and where, frankly, fares are higher than they should be and efficiency is lower than it should be due to the way unions work.

  • He said he thinks “very, very few people” – in the private or public sector – would get double-digit salary offers. “I think it would be highly untenable if they did that,” he claimed.
  • But he also claimed he expected “good” salary offers to be made to public sector workers – even as he stressed they would not reach the level of inflation that is set to be reached this year. (See 9.21am.) He told Sky News:

As far as I know, and it’s still early [proposed public sector pay] Awards come at a reasonable level, which is great. It means, I think, that there will be good salary offers on the table for public sector workers.

It is important that we wait and see what these awards are, and then of course the individual workforces and the unions will react.

But I think people need to realize if we’re going to prevent the evil of inflation — inflation destroys savings, it destroys growth. It harms any economy where it becomes endemic – then we must show collective, society-wide responsibility.

Treasury Secretary says private and public sector workers should not expect wage increases to match inflation

Good morning Inflation is at its highest level in 40 years and Britain’s return to the economic landscape of the 1970s/1980s will take a step forward this week with the biggest national rail strike in a generation. Unions are also threatening strikes this summer in several other key public services. This is from my colleague White Topham during rail strikes.

The issues are slightly different for different sectors, but at the heart of this week’s rail strike and all the other potential work stoppages that may come later is pay. As inflation heads towards 11%, real wages will fall.

Simon ClarkeChief Secretary to the Treasury, gave interviews this morning and delivered what is perhaps the most blunt message of any government minister that workers cannot expect pay rises to match inflation.

Stressing that this is a message for people in the private sector as well as the public sector, Clarke told the Today programme:

In the current landscape of 9% inflation bordering on 10%, it is not a sustainable expectation that inflation can be offset in wage offers. You won’t see that – frankly, in both the private sector and the public sector.

We can’t get into a world where we chase inflation expectations this way, because that’s the surest way I can think of to bake the repeat of the 1970s that this administration is dying to prevent.

I will be publishing more of Clarke’s interviews and the strike-related articles on the morning shows shortly.

Here is the agenda for the day.

11.30 a.m.: Downing Street holds a lobby meeting.

2.30 p.m.: Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, answers questions in the House of Commons.

3 pm: Alistair Jack, the Scottish Secretary, gives testimony to the House of Commons Committee on Scottish Affairs.

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Simon Clarke Photo: Sky News

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