‘Record decline’ in real earnings

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Published: Sunday 12th October 2014 by The News Editor

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UK workers are suffering the longest and most severe decline in real earnings since records began in Victorian times, according to a new study.

The TUC said workers face the seventh consecutive year of falling real earnings, a situation that has no historical precedent.

Even the long depression of the 1920s was shorter, said the union organisation, adding that the total decline in earnings since 2007 is over 8%.

The research was published as health workers in England and Northern Ireland prepare to go on strike for four hours tomorrow in protest at the Government’s controversial decision not to accept a recommended 1% pay rise for all NHS employees.

Midwives will stop work for the first time ever, joining picket lines outside hospitals alongside other health workers including nurses, ambulance staff, paramedics and porters.

The TUC is staging a national demonstration next Saturday under the banner Britain Needs A Pay Rise.

Its analysis compared the current situation with four major earnings crises in UK history: 1865-67, 1874-78, 1921-23 and 1976-77.

The real wages drops during each of these crises lasted only two years, apart from 1874-78 when there were four consecutive years of falling real earnings. After the initial drops earnings growth resumed, but now workers are facing the seventh year of financial “pain”, said the report.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It’s shocking that even the most infamous periods of pay depression in the last 150 years pale into comparison when looking at the current seven-year collapse in earnings.

“The Government says the economy is growing again, but there’s no evidence of any recovery in ordinary workers’ pay packets. Across the country people are struggling to make ends meet as their pay lags behind prices and there seems to be no end in sight to their financial misery.

“Vast swathes of Britain are long overdue a pay rise. That’s why we expect to see tens of thousands join our march next weekend, calling politicians and employers to help them share in this recovery and be able to start spending again without fear of falling into debt.”

NHS England’s Chief Nursing Officer Jane Cummings said: “We know that NHS staff are highly professional and always wish to put patients first. I am sure they will think very carefully before taking strike action to ensure the safety and care of patients is not put at risk.

“As a nurse, I know that Monday mornings are often extremely busy for the NHS and it may be busier than normal this Monday because of the strike action being taken by some staff. As ever, the safety and care of patients is our top priority and we have robust plans in place to cope. If necessary, the most urgent cases will be put first and we would ask the public to help, for example, by only calling an ambulance if it is a life-threatening situation.”

Published: Sunday 12th October 2014 by The News Editor

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