Economic forecasters in strike vote

Economic forecasts at risk of strike disruption as NIESR forecasters vote in strike ballot

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Economic forecasters at the NIESR (National Institute for Social and Economic Research) are predicting a high probability of strike action at the leading think tank in a dispute over inflation.

The Institute is sticking to its decision to give staff 0% in 2021 and just 2% in 2022. The pay offer fails to keep up with the rising cost of living and represents a pay cut in real terms.

The economists are being balloted for industrial action from Wednesday (December 15) and the ballot closes on January 7.

Unite General Secretary, Sharon Graham said, “A pay freeze combined with a pay increase well below current inflation rates amounts to two years of pay cuts – it’s that simple. NIESR management are trying to argue with their own economists that they can’t afford to pay staff more. The economists at NIESR deserve a decent pay rise. Since Unite is determined to fight for workers’ pay, terms and conditions they will have our full support in their claim.”

Any action could affect a number of research contracts which NIESR has with other organisations, and its forecasts for the UK and global economies, which have been published quarterly since the 1980s.

While the pandemic has affected NIESR’s income, like many other organisations, the Institute had its best financial performance this century in 2020. NIESR is in good financial health, with reserves and large cash and stock market holdings. It has continued to make high-profile appointments and internal promotions, while insisting that the additional £10,000 requested by staff is unaffordable.

Peter Storey, Unite Regional Officer, added, “If anyone is going to see through an attempt to fob them off with below-inflation pay increases, it’s the leading economists who produce NIESR’s internationally renowned research. Management are failing to recognise the economic realities for their own staff. Our members have never been motivated by desire for high pay or benefited from big rises in the good times, and they refuse to shoulder the burden of Covid-19 by accepting years of real terms pay cuts.”

The ONS RPI figure for November is 7.1 per cent while the the ONS CPI figure for November is 5.1 per cent. Unite’s general secretary Sharon Graham has said today that the union will continue to base claims on the RPI figure rather than CPI because it better reflects the actual price rise experienced by Unite members.

By Ciaran Naidoo

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