Private sector weekly earnings shows less than one percent real terms (RPI) increase primarily a result of statistic distortion caused by minimum wage jump
Public sector pay continues to fall in real terms as austerity pay policies bite and absence of functioning government results in income stagnation
October 25th: Jackie Pollock, Unite Regional Secretary for Ireland, responded to today’s release of the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency’s (NISRA) Annual Survey of Hours & Earnings.
“These statistics confirm that Northern Ireland workers are paid 8.4 percent less than workers elsewhere in the UK. At the same time, workers here clock in for 38.3 hours a week – which is more than 2 percent longer than the average in the UK. In other words, Northern Ireland employees work longer hours every week for significantly less pay.
“The figures show the first overall increase in real terms after years of pay decline and stagnation but the rate of increase was very low. If you assume the government’s preferred measure of inflation the increase was 2 percent but if you use the Retail Price Inflation index, the true inflation rate experienced by workers, then the increase was less than one percent. What’s more, these averages have been distorted by the substantial uplift in the minimum wage rate last year – necessary to ensure workers can survive but insufficient to lift them out of poverty. For those earning above that bare legal minimum, the story is markedly less rosy.
“Even using the official government inflation rate, the statistics show that public sector workers’ salaries and wages continue to fall. Northern Ireland NHS workers are now the lowest paid anywhere in the UK and have denied even the increase under the latest pay deal due to the absence of a functioning Executive.
“While there are those in the business class who wish to see something positive in these statistics, it could not be further from the truth. The reality is that across workplaces in Northern Ireland workers have had to ballot and prepare strike action to keep pace with inflation. Meanwhile the profits and shareholder dividends continue to grow uncontrollably.
“Today’s statistics confirm the need for expanded collective bargaining across the economy and make the case for union membership. Workers can only rely on themselves for pay decency – joining a trade union is the only way to put an end to in-work poverty”, Mr Pollock said.