Millions of people on low pay, the ‘squeezed middle’ or who are out of work are under ‘an income siege’ due to the rise in the retail price index (RPI) - the broader range for measuring inflation, Unite, the country’s largest union, said today (Tuesday 17 September).
RPI rose to 3.3 per cent in August from 3.1 per cent in July. The consumer prices index (CPI) – the government’s preferred measure - fell to 2.7 per cent in August, from 2.8 per cent in July.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “The reason the RPI is so important is that it includes housing costs and is the real rate of the cost of living.
“By whatever measure you use, inflation is at least 2.5 times greater than wage 'increases' which are currently running at an average of 1.1 per cent a year.
“Wages for millions of working people are now under siege and are being eroded on a monthly basis. It will take years to repair the damage done to people's incomes.
“Recent research we carried out showed that the amount of money that hard pressed Unite members have to borrow each month to make ends meet has tripled since 2012 to £660.
“This reveals the real squeeze that this austerity obsessed government has imposed on millions of UK citizens on low and middle incomes, while the rich elite get richer thanks to George Osborne’s generous tax give aways.
“It is the longest squeeze on wages since the 1870s.”
Len McCluskey repeated his call that the national minimum wage should rise by £1.50 an hour.
The current rate is £6.19, due to rise to £6.31 on 1 October – this 12p rise was branded as ‘measly and woefully inadequate’ by Len McCluskey.
For further information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.