John McDonnell has told the crisis-hit Tories “to stand aside” and let Labour fix the economy after figures showed that workers are experiencing a renewed squeeze on their wages.
Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show the biggest contraction of wages in four years and follow an analysis of OECD data that found Britain had suffered the biggest drop in average wages between 2007 and 2015 of any developed country except austerity-ravaged Greece.
Separate OECD analysis published last week also revealed that UK workers will face the biggest real wage fall of any advanced economy in 2018.
Shadow chancellor McDonnell said, “At a time when the government is in total disarray, if they will not act then they need to stand aside and let a Labour government build an economy that works for the many, not the few.”
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey echoed McDonnell’s call for a Labour government.
Responding to the ONS figures, which showed that average earnings fell in real terms by 0.6 per cent compared to a year earlier, he said, “Last week, millions of working people rejected the Tories’ work harder for less approach.
“Only Labour will boost the minimum wage to £10 an hour, scrap the public sector pay cap and ensure working people can stand tall again by building an economy based on secure, decent jobs.”
Currently there is no official UK government, after the Conservatives lost their majority in the general election.
The Queen’s Speech, which will mark the reopening of Parliament, has been delayed until next Wednesday (June 21) while Theresa May negotiates a deal with the hardline DUP to prop up a minority Tory government.
McDonnell’s intervention came after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told his MPs to “remain in permanent campaign mode” because Theresa May has been “put on notice” by voters.
Speaking to Labour MPs on Tuesday, he said, “We will continue to take the fight to the Tories and I will be out campaigning around the country in Conservative marginals in those extra seats we need to gain to deliver the government for the many that almost 13 million people voted for last week.”
“We are now a government in waiting and we must think and act at all times with that in mind. That is our responsibility to the huge numbers who voted for our manifesto last week.”
Commenting on the latest ONS figures, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady acknowledged the continuing squeeze on wages was now being reflected in the polls.
She said, “The election showed that working people are struggling. And the biggest price rises in four years won’t provide any comfort. Working people are still £20 a week off worse, on average, than they were before the crash – and now rising prices are hammering their pay packets again.
“The new government must stop the real wage slide. Ministers must focus on delivering better-paid jobs all around the UK. And it’s time to lift the artificial pay restrictions in the public sector. Our hardworking nurses and teachers are long overdue a pay rise.”