Ford sewing machinists vote to strike over equal pay in 1968. Photo: Pat Mantle/Morning Star
At prime minister’s questions last week, David Cameron seemed to suggest that talking about the economy meant talking about rising GDP, not rising electricity bills. But people’s daily experience of ‘the economy’ is of what they take home at the end of a week at work, and how much it leaves them when they’ve done the shopping and paid the bills. We’ve been tracking the return to growth as well, of course, and we now know that even though the economy grew by £60bn over the past four years, household disposable income per person dropped by £500. No wonder people are hurting.
The living standards crisis that the TUC has been talking about for years has shot up the political agenda in recent weeks. But much of the debate is still lopsided, zeroing in on prices, rather than talking about pay. Prices are important but the real root of the crisis – and the solutions – lie with pay. We’re in the midst of the longest wage squeeze in over a hundred years, with average earnings worth over £2,000 less than three years ago. That’s why the TUC launched our ‘Britain needs a pay rise’ campaign this summer and why we’re pushing for fair pay across the economy as the centrepiece of a real recovery.
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