'Cost of living catastrophe'

As CPI rate of inflation climbs to 5.4%, Unite GS Sharon Graham demands significant wage rises

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As the CPI measure of inflation today was revealed to have climbed to an astonishing 5.4 per cent, Unite says real scale of crisis is revealed in RPI rise to 7.5 per cent – a more accurate figure of rising costs.

Unite believes today’s inflation figures are a stark warning of the scale of the cost of living crisis that is confronting workers. The likely 50 per cent hike in the energy cap in April will make matters even worse. Neither government nor employers can stand by and do nothing.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Unless employers pay up and wages rise significantly, soaring inflation, including mounting energy costs, will create a cost of living catastrophe for workers. Anything less than a pay rise that meets soaring food, fuel and energy bills is a wage cut. Unite will make sure that those that can pay, do pay. Workers cannot pay the price for the pandemic.”

Unite bases wage claims on the RPI, rather than CPI. RPI includes housing costs and better reflects the actual price rises experienced by Unite members. The government has effectively already abandoned RPI in favour of the lesser measure of CPI.

Given this ‘‘jiggery-pokery”, Unite is building a department of specialists whose duties will include creating the Unite Bargaining Index. The Unite BI will track all real living costs and assess the ability to pay of employers – it will become the union’s benchmark measure in all wage and pension negotiations.

Sharon Graham added, “Frankly, we are fed up of the government’s jiggery-pokery on the cost of living index. So we will be appointing the necessary experts to produce our own working index for inflation – the Unite Bargaining Index. Workers can no longer afford to allow the government to force them to take what amounts to pay cuts based on ‘gerrymandered’ government statistics. We’ve put up with that for too long.”

By Ryan Fletcher

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