The UK has been hit by another round of train strikes, with the UK rail network, London Underground and overground all having been impacted this week.
This industrial action has come as a result of a dispute over pay, with workers calling for wage increases that would help their salaries keep up with record inflation, as well as jobs and working conditions.
RMT union boss Mick Lynch says the dispute could continue “indefinitely” and has raised the prospect of “synchronised” strikes with other unions.
One of the people sitting across the negotiating table from Mr Lynch has been Network Rail CEO Andrew Haines.
But who exactly is he, how much does he earn, and what has he said about the strike action?
Who is Andrew Haines?
Andrew Haines is the boss of Network Rail - the government body that owns, operates and develops rail infrastructure in Great Britain.
It also manages 20 of England and Scotland’s biggest railway stations, including London King’s Cross, Manchester Piccadilly and Edinburgh Waverley.
Mr Haines is currently also in charge of a transition team that will oversee Network Rail’s move to become a new entity - Great British Railways - at some point in 2023.
The brainchild of current Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, Great British Rail has the aim of providing the railways with a single “guiding mind” that will align the network’s strategy and priorities.
Put simply, it will have a broader scope than its predecessor, which left much of the strategising to private franchises and - during the Covid lockdowns - the government.
Before becoming the CEO of Network Rail in 2019, Andrew Haines was the CEO of aviation industry regulator the Civil Aviation Authority between 2009 and 2018.
Prior to these leadership roles, Mr Haines had started his career with British Rail - the publicly-owned operator of the railways prior to privatisation - and went on to work at Railtrack.
Railtrack was a privately run company that ran the UK’s railway infrastructure, but had to essentially be nationalised in 2002.
Mr Haines then became the managing director of South West Trains and also served as managing director of FirstGroup plc - two of the franchisees given contracts to run railway services by the Department for Transport.
What is Andrew Haines’ salary?
Andrew Haines has an annual salary of £588,000.
This figure is more than three-and-a-half times the size of the UK Prime Minister’s current salary, and 19-times what the RMT union says the median wage of its rail worker members.
Mr Haines’ salary grew in 2022, with his pay rising 8.1% from £544,000.
Incidentally, this increase is above the 8% pay rise Network Rail has offered rail workers for 2022 and 2023.
It comes after they had their salaries frozen in 2021.
Challenged about his salary on BBC Breakfast on Thursday (18 August), Andrew Haines said: “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.”
He added: “I’m well paid, but this strike is not about my pay. People are not going on strike about how much I earn.”
Mr Haines also told ITV’s Good Morning Britain show the 8% pay rise for workers was a “good offer”.
“The harsh challenge we’ve got in the railway system is we’ve only got three sources of funding: the taxpayer will pay more than 50% of the railway, fares or making our system more efficient,” he said.
“The harsh reality is that we only have those sources of funding and therefore, if we’re not going to ask the taxpayer or farepayer for more money, more pay will mean more job cuts, which is why we’ve come up with a balance.
“Eight percent is supported by job security because what I don’t want is people coming to work with a pay rise but then worried that their job is going to be under threat, because we’ve actually bankrupted the company (by) giving them a pay rise in the short term.
“What will help them is giving them the chance to vote on what we think is a fair deal and then we will see where this goes from there.”
RMT boss Mick Lynch, who represents around 45,000 rail workers, says a gap remains between his negotiators, Network Rail and operators.
He has accused the government and Conservative leadership candidates of “political interference” in the negotiations.
“What we need is the management to have the ability to negotiate and I think this has been has been partially caught up in the Tory leadership election or selection process that they’re going through and I think because those candidates have both both taken a turn to the hard right in this country, it’s very difficult to find the the ability to create a settlement.”
Mr Lynch has called for Grant Shapps himself to sit in on negotiations given the Department for Transport has been in control of much of the rail industry since the Covid pandemic.
The Department for Transport insisted the negotiations were “a matter for unions and employers - not government”.