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The News Line: News LONGEST PAY FREEZE SINCE QUEEN VICTORIA says Unite WAGE growth is lagging behind inflation for the first time since mid-2014, official figures show.


Average weekly earnings excluding bonuses increased by 2.1% in the three months to March, while inflation rose by 2.3% in the year to March 2017. In the first three months of this year, wages fell by 0.2%. Dennis de Jong, managing director at UFX.com, echoed this sentiment: ‘Alarm bells will be ringing for Britons with wages continuing to fall.’

The Unite union warned of a continuing Tory ‘wage squeeze’ not seen since Victorian times as the latest figures showed the retail price index measure of inflation running at 3.5 per cent, over one per cent higher than average earnings increases.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey commented: ‘Working people and their communities are in the grip of the longest pay squeeze since Queen Victoria was on the throne. With no sign of letting up and inflation rising more and more, workers are under constant pressure to make ends meet. Empty promises from the Tories and backsliding on minimum wage rates will do nothing to cease this income misery.’

Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary, said: ‘A decline in earnings is about less money in people’s pockets. It’s less money for rent, to pay the bills, to feed the kids. It’s not good for working people and it takes a toll on local economies as well. An economic recovery where working people are earning less isn’t an economic recovery at all. These figures are proof positive that austerity isn’t working and it’s working people paying the price.’

• GMB has welcomed Labour’s pledge to help the Cammell Laird strikers in their quest for the truth. A promise to release previously hidden documents was included in the party’s manifesto, following a long-running GMB campaign.

In total, 37 Cammell Laird shipyard workers were imprisoned in 1984 after taking official strike action over job losses. They were thrown in a high security category A jail – normally reserved for violent criminals and murderers – for 30 days and were then sacked, losing all their redundancy payments and pension rights.

Official documents relating to the severity of their sentences have disappeared and despite the European Parliament backing their case in 2014 – the government has remained silent. Paul McCarthy, GMB Regional Secretary, said: ‘Our long-fought-for campaign to put right the historic injustice suffered by these Cammell Laird workers is another step along the way.

‘This follows several questions raised by Labour MPs as to why this government refuses to release the official papers which would show why and who took the decision to lock up striking workers in a Category A prison, for 30 days. We welcome this promise for truth from Labour and challenge all other political parties to do the same.’
 
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