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Network Rail boss defends £590,000 salary as 45,000 workers strike over pay

Network Rail boss defends £590,000 salary as 45,000 workers strike over pay
‘I really understand why people are worried about cost of living,’ says railway chief

Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines has dismissed questions about his £590,000 salary, as tens of thousands of railway workers go on strike over pay and conditions.

A BBC Breakfast reporter this morning highlighted Mr Haines’ recent pay rise from £544,000 to £590,000, saying: “It’s a huge amount of money to people listening to this. How do you defend that?”

Mr Haines responded: “What happened was I took a pay cut the previous year, so my salary this coming year will be exactly the same as in 2018.

“That was just reflecting the fact that I volunteered… to take a short-term pay cut. It wasn’t a pay rise.”

Some 45,000 transport workers, including signallers, station guards and train crew, have walked out today in the first of two nationwide rail strikes this week.

The union says they are demanding that employers “get serious about providing an offer on pay which helps deal with the cost-of-living crisis, job security for our members and provides good conditions at work”.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Haines said that he “really understands why people are worried about cost of living.”

However, he insisted that his pay was irrelevant to the RMT Union’s demands, saying: “I’m well paid, but this strike is not about my pay. People are not going on strike about how much I earn.”

Meanwhile, RMT Union boss Mick Lynch denied that he himself is on a six-figure salary, telling presenters on Good Morning Britain, “That’s completely untrue.”

“What support are you giving members, because you’re on a six figure salary. I’m not going to demonise you for that this morning. Politicians are on a six figure salary,” presenter Paul Brand said to Mr Lynch.

Mr Lynch immediately refuted the claim, saying: “I’m not. I’m not on a six figure salary. That’s completely untrue.”

“Where did you get that from? I’m not on a six figure salary,” he added.

When Mr Brand said newspapers had published this claim as fact, Mr Lynch responded: “They’re wrong and not telling the truth.”

On Friday, three separate unions will participate in industrial action that will put much of London’s transport network out of action, including the Tube, Overground and some buses.