Branch Secretary :

Cost of Living Crisis: Inflation hits 7.8%RPI

Fightback on pay


Inflation up to 7.8% RPI according to today’s Office for National Statistics announcement. This year, a pay increase less than that is a pay cut and there is a lot more to come. The CPI index is 5.5%. Workers haven’t caused inflation - we need a fightback on pay.


Unite reps in housing met last week to plan a campaign on pay in our sector, contact your rep, officer or the branch to find out more.


Pay restraint


Also, in the news today, it was reported that there has been a run on champagne in the City as Banks award the biggest bonuses since the financial crash. "Two UK-based asset managers were paid between €38m and €39m, and one merchant banker was paid €64.8m. That banker received fixed pay of €242,000, topped up with a bonus of €64.6m" for example.


The governor of the bank of England and the Chief Secretary to the treasury may call for pay restraint but it appears they don’t apply that to their mates in the banks.


RPI index significantly higher


Unite has given detailed reasons why the frequently quoted CPI index is a less accurate inflation measure and Unite prepares pay claims on the basis of the RPI index. Money Week makes a good point here,


“Look to the list of things CPI is considered useful for and you will mostly see that it involves calculating rises in payments from the government to the public (jobseekers allowance, the state pension, universal credit, housing benefit and personal independence payments for example). 


Look to the list of things that use generally significantly higher RPI and you will see they mostly involve the calculation of rises in payments from the public to the government (interest on student loans, alcohol duty, tobacco duty, car tax and air passenger duty for example). Who could have guessed it would end up that way around?”


Branch banner on last Saturday's Cost of Living Crisis protest.


Unite statement:

As inflation soars, Unite leader reiterates demands for pay increases to combat brutal ‘cost of living’ crisis


Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham said: "Soaring inflation is not the fault of workers.  This is yet another crisis not of their making so why should workers be made to pay for it?


“It’s a national disgrace that some workers in this country have to choose between heating and eating while profits rain down in boardrooms.


“Unite will continue to demand significant pay increases to combat this brutal cost of living crisis because we must restore some fairness to working life in the UK.”


The latest inflation figures lay bare the cost of living crisis facing workers. The crisis could become a catastrophe for many from April when taxes rise and 22 million people will see an annual increase of £693 on their energy bills, with even more for those on pre-payment meters.


Earlier this month Sharon Graham rejected the Governor of the Bank of England's call for pay restraint as tantamount to a call “for a national pay cut”.


Sharon Graham said: “Where employers can pay, they should pay. We are fed up of rich men telling workers they have to pay for boardroom greed and colossal market failure.


"Whether it's workers at BMW Mini where Unite negotiated a 26 per cent pay deal over three years, or at First Manchester where bus drivers got an increase worth 8.9 per cent following strike action, Unite is unashamedly committed to defending its members’ living standards.  We make no apology whatsoever for fighting for workers' jobs, pay and conditions.”


Last week, Unite secured a multi-year pay deal worth 26% for 3,500 workers based at BMW’s Mini production plant in Cowley, Oxford. Hundreds of drivers employed by First Manchester secured a pay increase of 8.9 per cent following eight days of strike action.  Strikes at B&Q’s national distribution centre in Worksop came to an end after Wincanton workers accepted a pay deal worth 10.75 per cent for 450  employees (see notes to editors). 


Unite bases wage claims on the RPI which has today risen to 7.8%, rather than CPI. RPI includes housing costs and better reflects the actual price rises experienced by Unite members. 


16 February 2022


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