General union GMB warned the government today that strike action is on the cards this year as average wages plummet while bills hit the roof.
Official data revealed that between April 2008 and November 2012 the real value of average earnings dropped by 12.8 per cent.
GMB said: "In April 2008 the mean gross annual earnings for all employees in employment according to the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings was £26,137.
"The survey's figure for the mean gross annual earnings for all employees in employment for April 2012 was £26,664."
The union said this meant that while wages had increased by 2 per cent inflation for the same period was 14.8 per cent.
GMB general secretary Paul Kenny (pictured) said: "These figures showing a drop of 12.8 per cent in the real value of earning explain why we are on our way to a triple-dip recession.
"Consumer spending is the single biggest component of demand in the economy and with the real value of wages from employment falling there is no mystery as to why the economy is in a downward spiral.
"The replacing of full-time permanent jobs with part-time and temporary lower-paid jobs is part of this."
The union warned that unless public-sector wages increase this year, strike ballots would take place as hard-pressed families struggle to cope with "bills going through the roof."
It said: "GMB is seeking negotiated settlement in the forthcoming pay round in the public sector. If such settlements are not on offer GMB has already said that ballots for strike action will be inevitable.
"Such settlements are badly needed to boost the economy and stop the downward spiral.
"Pay rises are needed to help hard-pressed families cope with bills going through the roof."