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North West workers have lost £14k in real wages since 2008

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But amidst the doom and gloom, some North West cities are showing how to do things better

Today the TUC has published new figures that show the average worker in the North West has lost more than £14,000 in real earnings since 2008 – and that it’s much worse in some parts of the North West.

These stark numbers don’t make for good reading, but for many North West workers who have felt the pinch over the last decade they will come as no surprise.

Take Fylde, on the Lancashire coast, where workers there have suffered the biggest hit to real wages, with pay packets now worth £153 a week less than they were ten years ago.

It’s easy to imagine the impact this has had on families and the local economy. Having experienced a hit during the recession, the area was hit again with job losses in public services and manufacturing in recent years.

Those job losses don’t only affect the workers and their families – we know that local businesses near to big workplace suffer as local people can no longer afford to spend.

Fylde isn’t alone. In thirty-four of the forty-three local authorities here in the North West, real wages are still lower than they were a decade ago. Places like Blackburn & Darwen, Ribble Valley, Trafford and St Helens see real wages more than £50 a week lower than 2008.

We’re clear that the blame for this lies with the government, which has failed to tackle the cost of living crisis not just in the North West but across the country.

And it’s not as if there aren’t some easy fixes that ministers could bring in.

They could give public sector workers the pay rise they need and giving unions the right to bargain in more workplaces.

They could also boost the minimum wage to £10 an hour as soon as possible to give workers more money to get by and spend in their communities.

And they could look at longer term fixes, such as local industrial strategies that will deliver solid, well-paid jobs in the North West and investment in public services that leads to job creation not job losses.

It also important to recognise that it isn’t doom and gloom everywhere in the North West. In some parts of the region real wages have even risen, albeit slowly. Why? Because places like Preston and Salford where wages are rising do things differently.

For example, Preston council has invested in the local economy, using anchor institutions to buy local to support businesses and boost jobs and wages.

Like Preston, Salford council is a Living Wage employer – committed to paying all their staff a wage they can live on, from contractors to care providers. Salford has also reaped the benefits from job growth schemes such as Media City.

All this shows that intervening in the labour market is good for workers and the economy.

That’s why the TUC is working with Metro Mayors and Combined Authorities in the region to deliver good employment charters. And it’s why we work with employers who want to improve pay for workers, whether that’s through introducing the real living wage or collective bargaining in workplaces.

Hopefully by this time next year, this work will have helped North West workers in more parts of the region to enjoy a merrier Christmas.

It also important to recognise that it isn’t doom and gloom everywhere in the North West. In some parts of the region real wages have even risen, albeit slowly. Why? Because places like Preston and Salford where wages are rising do things differently.

For example, Preston council has invested in the local economy, using anchor institutions to buy local to support businesses and boost jobs and wages.

Like Preston, Salford council is a Living Wage employer – committed to paying all their staff a wage they can live on, from contractors to care providers. Salford has also reaped the benefits from job growth schemes such as Media City.

All this shows that intervening in the labour market is good for workers and the economy.