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TUC new year message urges pay rise for workers

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC urges PM to tackle wages ‘crisis’ (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)
Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC urges PM to tackle wages ‘crisis’ (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)

The Government is being urged to act on workers’ pay after a warning that real wages are barely set to increase over the next five years.

In her new year message, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady issued a direct challenge to the Prime Minister warning that the Government “can’t sit this wages crisis out”.

If I have one message for this Government at the start of 2022, it is this: Britain needs a pay rise.

Frances O'Grady, TUC

A study by the TUC suggested that real wages – taking account of inflation – are set to rise, on average, by just 0.6% a year between now and 2026.

Ms O’Grady said: “If I have one message for this Government at the start of 2022, it is this: Britain needs a pay rise.

Families are bracing themselves for a cost-of-living storm in 2022. Bills are rising – fuel bills fastest of all.

“Millions of working households have been hit by the cut to universal credit and will be hit next year by the hike to national insurance.

“Our economy will only recover when working people can afford to spend in local shops and businesses.”

The TUC leader said years of wage stagnation had caused damage to working families, adding: “This Conservative government has had 11 years to get wages rising, and they have failed, over and over again.

“We are still in the longest period of pay stagnation since the Napoleonic wars. Real wages for millions are less than they were before the bankers’ crisis in 2008, and unless ministers act now, the future looks bleak.”

If real wage growth mirrored the average in the 10 years before the bankers’ crisis, workers would be £2,500 per year better off by 2026, according to the TUC.

She added: “After decades of real wage cuts and falling living standards, no-one can seriously say working people don’t deserve a pay rise.

“That’s my priority, and the priority of the whole union movement, in 2022. The Prime Minister should shape up and make it his priority too.”

A government spokesman said: “We are increasing the wages of millions of workers by raising the national living wage to £9.50 an hour in April – an extra £1,000 a year for a full-time worker.

“On top of this an effective tax rate cut worth £2.2 billion for two million of the lowest earning families came into effect before Christmas – meaning that workers on universal credit will be, on average, £1,000 better off per year.

“Next year millions of nurses, teachers and members of the armed forces are set to see their pay rise thanks to the end of the public sector pay freeze announced at Budget this year.

“Real wages have grown since the start of the pandemic and are 3.4% above pre-pandemic levels.”