Cost of living crisis continues

Unite determined to fight for better pay as sky-high inflation continues and BoE again raises interest rates

Reading time: 4 min

Unite has slammed the Bank of England (BoE) for hiking up interest rates yet again on Thursday (June 22) after new figures showed inflation continued at a much higher than expected rate of 8.7 per cent.

The BoE raised interest rates by half a percentage point to 5 per cent, the highest in fifteen years, which will inflict further pain on households already reeling from an unprecedented cost of living crisis.

Commenting, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Yet again the Bank of England is making the wrong choice – inflicting pain on ordinary households across the UK by hiking up interest rates.

“This latest rise is nothing more than a hand-out to the banks who have already made bumper profits from 12 other interest-rate hikes,” she added. “The 13th could put hundreds of thousands of mortgage holders in peril of not being able to pay their mortgage.

“Instead of blaming inflation on workers’ wage rises it’s high time the Governor of the Bank of England tackled the profiteers of corporate Britain. They are to blame for the current crisis.”

On Wednesday (June 21), the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released the latest CPI inflation data, which stayed at 8.7 per cent in May, the same as April, despite expectations that the inflation rate would continue in a downward trajectory.

Meanwhile, core inflation – which strips out price rises in food, energy, alcohol and tobacco, rose to 7.1 per cent – the highest level in more than 30 years.

Food inflation fell only slightly to 18.3 per cent in May from 19 per cent in April. The rate of food price increases in the UK is higher than the European Union average of just over 16 per cent and higher than all major European economies.

Commenting on the latest inflation figures, Unite leader Sharon Graham said, “These figures give little comfort to what is happening in the real world of workers and their families. Month on month, they continue to feel the pain of their wages trailing behind escalating prices. Just look at the rising cost of groceries up more than 16% on last year.

“Unite remains focused on fighting for workers and their pay — already winning £350 million back in the pockets of our members.”

Indeed, Unite members are determined in their fight for better pay amid the cost of living crisis. For example, this week, hundreds of workers from the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) went on out on strike after management has refused to budge on a well below-inflation pay offer.

Earlier this week, UniteLive heard from two striking RSH members. Today we hear from another member who highlighted the pain of rising inflation. The member said:

“After spending a decade working in the public sector, watching my wages slowly erode in the face of inflation, things have finally reached boiling point in the current economic crisis.

“As the sole income in a young family I’ve been forced to change jobs three times just to try and keep up with the growing bills. Whilst my job responsibilities and bills increase, our quality of life has steadily slipped.

“I joined RSH with the impression they would be an open and friendly employer that would engage with unions and listen to the financial concerns of their employees. Unfortunately this hasn’t been the impression I’ve received. Their refusal to even engage with Unite or ACAS is beyond disappointing. Especially when other organisations, like the Housing Ombudsman, are doing just that.”

You can find out more about the RSH strike in our previous story here.

By Hajera Blagg