Public sector workers will not receive anti-inflationary wage increases because the country cannot afford them, Transport Secretary Mark Harper stressed last night.
But he hinted that he could order negotiators to change their tough positions in order to secure a railroad deal by Christmas.
Mr Harper said if unions agree to modernization it could free up billions of pounds for pay rises.
However, he warned they were unlikely to receive increases matching inflation as it would be “unaffordable”.
He told Sky News: “I don’t have a bottomless pit of taxpayers’ money.”
TUC boss Frances O’Grady welcomed the “change of tone”.
But the RMT union said, “We’ve heard it all before.”
Nurses are told to go outside and ambulance crews are holding a strike vote.