Beth Farhat: North East workers need fair pay

Regional head of the TUC Beath Farhat on how wages have been gone up during the recovery

Iain Buist Beth Farhat, regional secretary at the Northern TUC
Beth Farhat, regional secretary at the Northern TUC

Workers in the North East would be over £55 a week better off if real wage growth had remained at its pre-recession rate, according to new analysis published by the TUC.

The analysis shows that even using the Government’s preferred inflation measure (the consumer prices index), which excludes housing costs, workers in the region would be earning £56.70 a week more had pay had continued to rise at 1.9% per year after the crash.

The TUC says the analysis shows how much working people’s living standards suffered during the recession and how pay has failed to recover during the recovery.

This is the seventh year that average weekly earnings have been falling – the longest period since records began in the 1850s. Last month Bank of England Governor, Mark Carney, said that average weekly earnings have fallen by around 10% in real terms since the financial crisis.

Our analysis highlights how much better off working people would be if real wages had risen at their pre-recession rate. In the North East workers would be nearly £3,000 a year better off had wage growth remained at its modest pre-recession rate.

Instead, pay has fallen off a cliff and shows little sign of recovering any time soon.

Ordinary households are not sharing in the recovery and are facing their seventh consecutive year of real wage cuts.

People are increasingly being forced to use their credit cards and dwindling savings to make ends meet, and unless the North East gets a pay rise soon the region’s personal debt problem will get even worse.

If ever there was a time, or reason to ask for a pay rise, this is it. That’s why thousands of people from across the North East from all walks of life and all sectors of employment; from firefighters, teachers, nurses and healthcare providers, to shop-workers, call-centre staff, post office workers, journalists and everything in between, travelled 300 miles to take part in a demonstration in London on Saturday for our Britain Needs a Pay Rise campaign.

But we need to keep asking. So we’re following this up with a more local event in Newcastle during National living wage week in November to keep the issue of poverty pay at the top of the region’s agenda, too. We do not want the North East to be regarded as ‘a low pay region’. We want to see more and better jobs created and invested in.

Low pay isn’t just detrimental to the economy either. The Northern TUC’s Fair Pay and Living Wage Seminar on the 6th November will include a high quality set of workshops and speakers from the public, private and voluntary sector along with those working in economic development, financial inclusion and child poverty.

If you want to know more about why Britain Needs A Pay Rise further details can be found at http://www.tuc.org.uk/northern

Beth Farhat, Northern TUC Regional Secretary

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