Morning Star | December 14, 2022
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham speaks to her members on a picket line at one of the entrances to the Port of Felixstowe in Suffolk, Britain’s biggest and busiest container port, after backing industrial action by 9-1 in a dispute over pay. Picture date: Wednesday August 24, 2022.
MINISTERS must act now on pay, trade union leaders warned yesterday as latest official figures showed that wage increases are continuing to be outstripped by inflation rises.
Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that regular wages, excluding bonuses, rose by 6.1 per cent in the three months to October — a record level outside of the pandemic.
But the ONS found that wages continued to be outstripped by rising prices, falling by 3.9 per cent after consumer prices index (CPI) inflation is taken into account.
The data comes ahead of today’s official figures that are expected to show that inflation remained at eye-watering levels last month.
Firms and the government are under increasing pressure from unions and experts to raise workers’ earnings.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said that 2022 has been “the worst year for real wage growth in nearly half a century.”
Analysis published by the union body on Monday found that working people have lost, on average, £76 a month in 2022 as a result of their pay not keeping pace with inflation.
“We are now on the brink of a damaging recession with the threat of one million lost jobs,” Ms O’Grady said.
“Ministers must act now to put money in people’s pockets — starting with boosting the minimum wage and giving our public-sector workers a pay rise to match the cost of living.
“And the Prime Minister should stop attacking working people trying to defend their pay and sit down to negotiate fair pay rises with unions.”
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said that the “dire figures” confirm that the British economy is broken.
She said: “Energy giants count their profits in billions when millions can’t heat their homes.
“Billionaires and City bankers are told to let it rip by the Chancellor who says there’s no money for nurses’ pay.
“It is absurd to blame workers for fighting for fair pay when the undeniable evidence is that rampant profiteering is causing soaring inflation and grave economic inequality, not wages.
“Month after month wages are playing catch-up.”
Ms Graham said that profiteering must be tackled and pay raised or that “austerity mark 2 will lead us to a devastating recession.”
The ONS figures also showed that unemployment rose to 3.7 per cent in the three months to October, up from 3.6 per cent in the previous quarter.
It means a 23,000 rise in the number of jobless Britons to 1.2 million in that period.
Job vacancies dropped by 65,000 in the three months to November to 1.9 million — the fifth quarterly decline in a row and the first annual fall since the beginning of last year.
Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary Jonathan Ashworth hit out at 12 years of Tory failure leaving working people with falling wages and low employment levels.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said: “To get the British economy back on track, we have a plan which will help to more than halve inflation next year — but that requires some difficult decisions now.
“Any action that risks embedding high prices into our economy will only prolong the pain for everyone, and stunt any prospect of long-term economic growth.”