Next month’s budget needs to be geared to boosting the West Midlands economy, with the aim of restoring the wages of workers across the region after a decade long pay squeeze, Unite, the country’s largest union, said today (Thursday 26 October).
The call came from Howard Beckett, Unite assistant general secretary with responsibility for the West Midlands, after new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that West Midlands workers are still £30 a week worse off than they were before the financial crash a decade ago.
Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: “For more than 150 years the West Midlands has been the manufacturing powerhouse of the UK, yet the workers, who have contributed so much to the region’s prosperity, have endured a decade long pay drought.
“These latest ONS figures reveal that for the year to April 2017 real wages in the West Midlands were 6.8 per cent below 2008 levels.
“Wages are stagnating and currently running behind inflation, and living standards continue to take a hit. The latest GDP figure this week underlined the continuing fragility of the UK economy.
“The pressure to reboot the British economy through next month's budget is now on. An economic U-turn is needed, urgently.
"Nothing less than a coherent investment and industrial strategy, including reversing the attacks on public sector pay and a massive and desperately needed house building programme, will do.
“The West Midlands economy and its workforce could only benefit from such a strategy – the ball is very much in chancellor Philip Hammond’s court as he prepares for the budget on 22 November.”
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on: 020 3371 2065
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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.