Trade unions are valuable organisations designed to protect their members' employment rights - essential to any modern democracy, and, as with employers, are at their best when they behave fairly and reasonably to all those in their care.

Over the years, I have enjoyed working with trade unions representing both public and private sectors at a local and national level, with one of my campaigns even receiving an award.

Primarily, in the private sector, the issues debated are between companies and the unions representing their employees.

However, the Government encourages these organisations to work together and seek resolutions to any concerns without resorting to disruptive strike action.

Like you, I am deeply frustrated by the large-scale industrial action we are seeing on our railways.

On June 21, more than 50,000 railway workers walked out, including staff of Network Rail, 13 train operating companies and London Underground.

On June 23 and 25, up to 40,000 workers are walking out. Again, this includes staff of Network Rail and 13 train operating companies.

Winsford Guardian: Train passengers are suffering more disruption from strike action as talks resume in a bid to resolve the bitter dispute over jobs, pay and conditions (Ian West/PA)Train passengers are suffering more disruption from strike action as talks resume in a bid to resolve the bitter dispute over jobs, pay and conditions (Ian West/PA)

With the Government having stepped in and committed £16 billion - equivalent to £600 for every household in the UK - to keep trains running through the pandemic, and ensuring no Train Operating Company or Network Rail employee was furloughed so that key workers could keep moving, it is hugely disappointing the unions are carrying out industrial action right at the point at which the railways are beginning to recover.

I know the Government recognises the nature of our nation's current cost of living situation, and would like to unfreeze pay.

But while taxpayers continue to foot the bill, ministerial colleagues cannot support union demands for huge Government-funded pay increases, especially when many railway staff are already paid far more than teachers, nurses, and emergency workers.

According to the Office for National Statistics, the median annual salary for a railway employee is £43,747. For a secondary teacher, it is £41,412; for a nurse, it is £35,971; and for a firefighter, it is £36,808.

It is disappointing that the unions are striking before engaging in meaningful talks to try and find a resolution - not least of all as their premature action will cost the British economy - and the jobs that rely on it - £100 million, when workers in other industries are doing their level best to promote the recovery.