‘Don’t lecture us about wage restraint’ – ‘the alarm bells are ringing!’ says Unite’s Graham

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Protest outside Parliament against Tory economic policies – a quarter of households are struggling to pay the bills

‘Don’t lecture us about pay restraint,’ the Unite and GMB unions retorted to appeals from Governor of the Bank of England Andrew Bailey yesterday, after it was revealed that RPI inflation soared to 11.1% in the 12 months to April.

CPI inflation jumped to 9%, up from 7% in March, with prices rising at their fastest rate for 40 years as higher energy bills hit millions of households.

Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham said: ‘The alarm bells are ringing very loudly now. Earnings are being pummelled, the government is, shamefully, turning its back on those in need and employers are squeezing wages.

‘So, we will absolutely take no more lectures on pay restraint from the millionaire governor of the Bank of England.

‘If Andrew Bailey wants to lecture anyone about belt-tightening, he should direct his attention to the CEOs of the UK’s top 100 companies who have seen their wages swell by an average of 34 per cent to an astonishing £4.1 million a year.

‘Ask them to pause to reflect about the scale of their corporate greed. Workers, on the other hand, are at least £70 worse off than this time last year and are being battered by spiralling food and energy costs. Telling them to pay for a crisis which is absolutely not of their making is obscene and totally unacceptable to Unite.

‘Unite’s answer to the current crisis is that employers who can pay decent wages but won’t will face industrial action. I can tell you that we don’t intend to shift from that.’

Gary Smith, GMB General Secretary, said: ‘Pay dropping at the same time as inflation runs rampant could spell disaster for too many working people.

‘Real wages have suffered their biggest drop for a decade – yet the boss of the Bank of England still thinks people shouldn’t ask for a pay rise.

‘The best way to get wages rising is to empower trade unions. GMB is winning above inflation pay-rises for workers all across the country.’

Clare Moriarty, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: ‘There are desperate stories behind these figures. People washing in their kitchen sinks because they can’t afford a hot shower; parents skipping meals to feed their kids; disabled people who can’t afford to use vital equipment because of soaring energy bills.’

Average petrol prices stood at £1.62 per litre in April 2022, compared with £1.26 per litre a year earlier.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimated inflation is now at its highest level since March 1982, when it stood at 9.1%.

The Bank of England warned earlier this month that the UK is on the brink of recession, with inflation soaring and massive energy bill rises still to come in October.