BIG WAGE AND JOB CUTS IN NORTH – warns TUC

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WORKERS in England’s Northern region are up to £4,264 worse off per year since the Tory-led coalition came to power.

The Northern TUC 10-Point Plan for A Northern Future that Works manifesto being launched today shows that since the coalition government was formed the average full-time wage has fallen significantly in real terms across the northern region.

In the North East, full-time workers are now on average £1,196 worse off per year in real terms than if wages had risen in line with inflation (RPI) under the coalition.

In Cumbria, people are £1,872 worse off.

This real-terms drop in wages represents a combination of the impact of wage freezes, below-inflation pay rises and public sector jobs lost in the region being replaced by lower paid work.

Some local authority areas have been hit particularly hard: North Tyneside workers have lost £2,912 and Redcar & Cleveland workers have to live with a fall of £4,264.

Last week there was media speculation that the coalition government was considering changing the formula for setting the Minimum Wage to enable ministers to freeze or even reduce it in future.

This would result in a real-terms pay cut for just under a million minimum wage workers in the UK. The already widening pay gap would have been further exacerbated by the government’s now defunct proposal of Regional Pay, which would have cost the region millions of pounds more in lost earnings.

The Northern TUC manifesto also highlights the stark reality of unemployment in the North East and Cumbria.

Despite claims of job creation and figures illustrating that employment has increased, under the coalition government every local authority area in the region now has a minimum of ten per cent more jobseekers than before.

County Durham and Darlington both have increases above 30 per cent and Northumberland has been worst affected with a rise of 37 per cent since June 2010.

Almost 50,000 public sector jobs have been lost so far and the employment rate stands at a sickly 64 per cent.

There are, on average, 7.5 jobseekers per job vacancy in the North East and four times as many jobseekers as vacancies in Cumbria, with as many as 8:1 in North Tyneside and 11:1 in Hartlepool.

Not only are more people out of work, youth unemployment, especially long-term unemployment, is also up and continuing to rise.

The TUC General Council is meeting on Wednesday 24 April.

It will be discussing whether it should call a 24-hour general strike against the coalition government’s austerity measures.

A huge lobby outside will be demanding that the TUC go much further than a one-day protest and calls an indefinite general strike to bring down the coalition and bring in a workers government.