Soaring inflation sparks pay rise calls from unions

Unite is launching its own cost-of-living index.

Alan Jones
Wednesday 19 January 2022 10:21
Unite union general secretary Sharon Graham has warned of a ‘cost-of-living catastrophe’ for workers (Unite/PA)
Unite union general secretary Sharon Graham has warned of a ‘cost-of-living catastrophe’ for workers (Unite/PA)

Unions are stepping up campaigns for pay rises following the latest inflation figures amid warnings of a “cost-of-living catastrophe” for workers.

Unite said the true scale of the crisis has been revealed in the RPI rise of 7.5%, which it said is a more accurate figure than CPI.

And it said the Government and employers cannot “stand by and do nothing” and allow workers to pay the price for the pandemic.

The union is pressing ahead with setting up its own index for measuring the cost of living and ability of employers to pay, saying it will become its benchmark for negotiations on wages and pensions.

General secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unless employers pay up and wages rise significantly, soaring inflation, including mounting energy costs, will create a cost-of-living catastrophe for workers.

“Anything less than a pay rise that meets soaring food, fuel and energy bills is a wage cut. Unite will make sure that those that can pay do pay.

“We are fed up of the Government’s jiggery-pokery on the cost-of-living index, so we will be appointing the necessary experts to produce our own working index for inflation.

“Workers can no longer afford to allow the Government to force them to take what amounts to pay cuts based on ‘gerrymandered’ government statistics.”

Employers should be aware: workers want better and will take action to get it

GMB general secretary Gary Smith

GMB general secretary Gary Smith said: “The UK’s skyrocketing inflation is driven by out-of-control energy prices and it’s only going to get worse, with an unprecedented 70% price rise predicted this year alone.

“GMB members across the UK facing this cost-of-living crisis are taking on bosses and winning the big pay rises they deserve.

“Employers should be aware: workers want better and will take action to get it.”

Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said: “The soaring cost of living means growing anxiety for low-income families. Employees able to switch jobs will be intensifying their new year searches for better-paid work. This is terrible news for our public services.

“Health and care services, already thousands of workers short, are likely to be the biggest losers.

“Staff are likely to jump ship for more lucrative, less stressful work, where there’s also no requirement to be Covid-jabbed.

“The figures make a mockery of the 1.75% pay offer for school and council staff. The Government must boost the money available so wages there can keep up with rocketing prices too.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Families are facing a double hit from high inflation and slowing wage growth. They need more help from Government.

“The Chancellor must come forward with a plan to tackle the cost-of-living crisis. Working people need stronger rights to bargain for fair pay increases. And families need more help with rising bills through Universal Credit.”

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