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LONDON, Dec 9 (Reuters) - British finance minister Jeremy Hunt said on Friday that he did not wish to see pay rises for public-sector workers that might reduce the pace at which the government expects double-digit inflation to fall.
Britain is in the midst of a wave of industrial action in both the public sector and the privately operated rail sector, which relies heavily on government subsidies, as well as other industries including postal and telecoms workers.
Pay for almost all British workers has lagged behind consumer price inflation, which hit a 41-year high of 11.1% in October, and the shortfall is especially big in the public sector, where pay rose an annual average of 2.4% in the three months to the end of September.
Hunt said the government's Office for Budget Responsibility had forecast inflation would fall to 3.7% by early 2024.
"We know that the thing that is making them (public-sector workers) most angry is the erosion of their pay through inflation," Hunt told an event hosted by the Financial Times.
"We just have to be really careful not to agree to pay demands that have the opposite of the intended effect, and lock in high inflation," he added.
Hunt declined to comment directly on reports that he had intervened to block industry proposals for a more generous pay offer to striking rail workers, which would have needed backing from the transport ministry.
"I think the Treasury, Number 10 (Downing Street), individual spending departments, we are at one in terms of our approach," he said.
The Bank of England - tasked with bringing down inflation - has said Britain has suffered a real loss of income due to surging energy prices, which means that widespread hefty pay rises will not bring a lasting recovery in living standards. (Reporting by William James, writing by David Milliken, Editing by Kylie MacLellan)