Sunday 30 March 2008

Prices and Wages

Pay is becoming a bigger and bigger issue for working people, with prices rising at over 4% and many months showing average earnings lagging behind, eating into our standard of living.

But "average" earnings can be pretty misleading as an indication of what working people are getting - they include the city bonuses and fat-cat salaries.

The government is also trying to muddy the waters by promoting the "Consumer Price Index" (CPI), which excludes housing costs. This may be useful for some purposes, but is utterly irrelevant to the cost of living for most of us!

There are some excellent resources available online to give you the data you need for campaigning:

1) Data about the Retail Price Index (RPI) can be found at

2) There's a wealth of information about earnings at, including data about the Average Earnings Index (AEI).

3) You can find out information about most employers from the TUC's excellent "WorkSmart" web site: This includes a lot of information extracted from the company accounts, including turnover, profits, directors pay, numbers of employees, holding companies, subsidiaries etc.

Most people find statistics a bid daunting, and they say a picture is worth a thousand words. I bet there's someone in nearly every workplace who can use Excel or some other spreadsheet to do you a pretty graph of the relevant data which would look great on a leaflet. Here's one someone did for us to use at Fujitsu:

Has your pay gone up 17% in the last 4 years?

The recent narrowing gap between prices and earnings shows how inflation has started eating into our standard of living. We need stronger unions!

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