Pay patience is no virtue

Submitted by martin on 26 May, 2010 - 4:29 Author: Chris Reynolds

The latest official figures for inflation are 3.7% (consumer price index) and 5.3% (retail price index), both for April 2010.

Both figures have been rising steadily since about June 2009.

The vast sums of credit pumped into the system in late 2008 by governments in order to bail out the banks and stop "deflation" (falling prices) always had an inbuilt risk of generating inflation; and it was always likely that the inflation would arrive after some delay.

We don't know what will happen to inflation now. A renewed banking crisis might bring it down again, though maybe at the cost of further bail-outs which could feed through to even more inflation later.

But inflation is already relatively high, and could rise higher.

That means that pay freezes, and multi-year pay deals, could well lead to severe cuts in workers' real income.

Many trade unionists, especially in the private sector, have "hunkered down" since 2007, keeping pay claims low or accepting cuts in the hope that temporary sacrifice will see them through the crisis.

Patience looks even less like a virtue now.

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