Workers must not pay for pandemic

Unite: RPI hits 6 per cent and should be used in pay talks

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Unite’s leader Sharon Graham said the union will continue to base claims on the RPI (retail price index) figure rather that CPI (consumer price index) because it better reflects the actual price rise experienced by Unite members. In the future Unite will also develop its own ‘Bargaining Index’.

Speaking yesterday (November 17) on the latest inflation figures, Sharon Graham said, “Today’s rise in inflation reflects a growing crisis in the cost of living for ordinary families. Energy prices – the cost of gas and electricity – and shortages are major factors is today’s figures. So, workers’ wages will have to at least match the inflation rate because otherwise they will be facing a calamitous drop in their standard of living.

“Unite is now focused on defending workers’ jobs pay and conditions, which includes making sure workers do not pay the price of the pandemic.”

In recent months, Unite has won more than 25 pay claims above the current inflation rate when workers took industrial action or voted for it. Time after time, employers increased their initial pay offer when faced with workers’ claims, proving they had the money to pay more in the first place.

‘Hidden tax on workers’ wages’ 

Sharon Graham challenges the use of the CPI instead of RPI by the Office of National Statistics as potentially “a hidden tax on workers’ wages”. The ONS CPI figure for October is 4.2 per cent while the ONS RPI figure is 6 per cent.

“The RPI, which includes housing costs, is a more accurate cost of living index than the CPI, which is always lower as it does not include housing and related costs,” stated Sharon.

“Employers favour the CPI as it creates a lower base rate for inflation as an element in possible wage claims. In that respect, the CPI is a hidden tax on workers’ wages if it is used as a base for cost calculations.

“That’s why in future Unite is going to produce its own calculations of price inflation – in what might be determined a Unite Bargaining Index – so that the base level for wage bargaining is much more accurate.”


See the latest CPI figures used. The ONS figure for RPI is 6 per cent. 


The average house price has hit a record high of £270,000 after surging by £28,000 over the past year, official figures show. Across the UK, property values increased by 11.8 per cent over the year to September, accelerating from 10.2 per cent annual growth in August, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

By Ryan Fletcher

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