It was the Transport Secretary himself who recently hailed the rail workers as “true heroes”—key workers who have done a phenomenal job during this pandemic. I think we all agree on that, but the private train companies that employ our rail workers are set to be paid a fee from the Government—taxpayers’ money—which will provide profit and shareholder dividends. If these taxpayer handouts are indeed acceptable, do the Minister and the Secretary of State not simply agree that these rail workers—true heroes, key workers—should be receiving a decent pay rise? And Minister, who makes these decisions? Who says whether they can have a pay rise or not? Is it the Government or the companies themselves?
I agree with what the Secretary of State said about rail workers, who, up and down the country, will no doubt have noticed how much support the Government have given the industry since the pandemic struck and how little revenue the passenger sector is generating. They would have noticed the public sector pay policy announced by the Chancellor in the spending review. The figures are simple. The average national earnings growth rate since 2011 for the average UK worker is 2.2%; for train and tram drivers, it is 3.4%; for rail transport operatives, 4.4%; and for rail and rolling stock builders and repairers, 4.6%. We truly value our rail workers.