Unite warns of ‘wage crisis’

Unite warns of ‘wage crisis’ as average earnings continue to fall

12 July 2017

Britain’s largest union, Unite warned of a deepening wage crisis gripping UK workers as official labour market figures out today (Wednesday 12 July) showed that average weekly earnings, including bonuses, fell in real terms by 0.7 per cent compared to a year earlier.

The continued squeeze, not seen since the Napoleonic wars, should leave government ministers ‘straining every sinew’ to ease the wage pain said Unite, as it warned the government against ‘self-congratulatory back slapping’ over employment figures.

Commenting Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “The Tories have succeeded in creating the longest period of falling real terms pay since the Napoleonic wars.    

“Of course the high numbers in work are a good thing, but there should be no self-congratulatory backslapping from ministers over the employment figures. 

“Instead, we need a renewed focus on ending the wage squeeze with ministers straining every sinew to ensure work pays a decent wage in this country. Lifting the self-defeating cap on the pay of millions of public sector workers has to be top of the list.

“We need an economy built on decent, secure well paid jobs. Theresa May’s failure to embrace even the timid Taylor review suggests her government is yet to break any sweat on this. 

“That report cannot be the final word on the matter. It is not a government plan for the creation of the decent wealth-creating jobs of tomorrow this country needs, or those that will pay for our public services.   

“The dramatic spread of in-work poverty, the almost one in three with no security of work or income and the glaring holes in the Treasury's bank balance because low wages mean falling contributions has happened on the Tories’ watch. 

“Workers across the country desperately need a boost to the minimum wage to £10 an hour, an end to the public sector pay cap and action to ensure we have an economy based on secure, decent jobs.

“Theresa May and her Tory ministers need to wake up to crucial role trade unions play in improving the living standards of working people. Time and again trade unions prove they are the best agents to improve pay and working life. 

“It’s time the government stopped treating trade unions as some sort of ‘enemy within’ and started supporting us as we strive to support working people.”


For further information please contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869. 

Notes to editors 

  • 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.