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Thursday 17th
posted by Conrad Landin in Britain

TUC warns Tories ‘sitting on hands’ while real wages fall for fourth month

TORIES are “sitting on their hands” while the cost of living rockets, the TUC warned yesterday as new figures showed real wages had fallen for the fourth month in a row.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the number of people in work had risen by 125,000 to 32.07 million in the three months to June, with the employment rate climbing by 0.3 per cent to a record 75.1 per cent.

Annual growth in wages was 2.1 per cent for April to June, up from 1.9 per cent for March to May. But despite the rise in employment and wages, the TUC showed a 0.5 per cent pay drop once the rising cost of living had been taken into account.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Rising prices and stagnant pay are a toxic combination for working people.

“Ministers are sitting on their hands as another living standards crisis unfolds. It’s time to boost wages by scrapping the pay restrictions in the public sector, investing in infrastructure and increasing the minimum wage.”

The ONS said the number of people on zero-hours contracts had fallen by 20,000 since last year — but it still stands at 883,000.

Ms O’Grady warned: “Far too many people are still being treated like disposable labour, stuck on contracts with little security or certainty.

“Today’s figures show that zero-hours contracts won’t disappear by themselves. It’s time for the government to crack down on dodgy employment deals and ban these type of contracts.”

Labour shadow work and pensions secretary Debbie Abrahams said: “With wages continuing to fall in real terms, Tory cuts to in-work support and rising prices, many households and families are worse off under this government.”

Civil Service union PCS said the Tories “shoulder the responsibility” for falling real-terms earnings, pointing to the 1 per cent cap on pay rises in the public sector which has restricted wages for the past four years.

“Theresa May’s government has no mandate to continue with the pay cap and, without the fig leaf of a review body to hide behind for the Civil Service, ministers can and must act immediately to increase the wages of their own workforce,” the union’s leader Mark Serwotka said.

Employment Minister Damian Hinds crowed: “These statistics show that record levels of people are in work across the country and earning a wage, which is great news.”