Why Making Up Lost Ground on Pay is so Important
Last week’s employment figures showed the annual increase in average weekly earnings (regular pay) rising to 1.8 per cent, higher than the most recent inflation figures (1.6 per cent for the Retail Price Index, 0.5 per cent using the CPI).
It’s a bit early to celebrate, though. The reality is that real earnings are hardly moving. The increase in average weekly earnings is still lower than inflation as recorded by the RPI (the measure normally used for wage bargaining) and the recent convergence of inflation and earnings is much more the result of falling inflation than rising earnings – which are still rising at historically low rates:
If we are going to tackle low pay a multi-pronged strategy is going to be needed, and part of that strategy has to involve the work of trades unions, bargaining for decent pay deals. Remember that unionised workers still benefit from a substantial pay premium, worth £1,690 in the public sector and £580 in the private sector.
That’s why it’s important that we make our arguments in this year’s pay bargaining round as sharp as possible. As Alastair Hatchett pointed out here a few days ago, almost all workers have suffered reverses over the past seven years. That’s why we’re promoting this year’s TUC-IDS pay bargaining conference, Making Up Lost Ground.
It’s due to take place at Congress House on 12 February, and the line up includes expert presentations on
- The state of the economy from the TUC’s Nicola Smith,
- Developments in pay deals from IDS’s Ken Mulkearn,
- Recent successful negotiations from leading union bargaining officers, and
- Using the Living Wage in pay bargaining.
And there’ll be a closing address from Unite’s Tony Burke. It will be well worth attending and because it’s co-organised by the TUC, the fees are a fraction of the normal rates for Incomes Data Services conference – find out more here.