Belfast Telegraph

Any inflation rise needs our wages to follow suit

By Clare Weir

Prime Minister David Cameron has said that while global economic risks remain, the low rise in inflation is “good news for hard-working taxpayers” and will mean “more stability and security”.

However, unions and other campaigners are calling for higher wages to boost living standards, saying that the inflation increase, however small, will blunt hopes of bigger pay packets.

Some analysts maintain that the rise will wipe out any wage improvement and will tighten pressure on pockets.

That does not bode well for the High Street, particularly in Northern Ireland, in the wake of recent reports which indicate that retailers are already struggling as they head into the vital festive shopping period.

Retail footfall in Northern Ireland fell by 5.3% last month, according to a new report from Springboard — the worst decline of any UK region.

And in October’s purchasing managers index report from Ulster Bank, retail was the only sector to report an outright decline in business activity.

It certainly isn’t a good time for supermarkets, with projected rates rises and their first trading decline in two decades.

However, there will be more money to spend if you work for Bank of Ireland, where staff are to benefit from an above-inflation pay rise following union discussions.

It is the first pay rise at the bank since 2008 and will mean that around 1,300 staff in Northern Ireland and many thousands more in the Republic will get an increase of 1.75% next month, with 2% due in January. The deal follows negotiations with the Irish Bank Officials’ Association, who now say they are also in fledgling talks with AIB and Ulster Bank. Could this be a start to pay rises for all workers?

Belfast Telegraph