THE real value of earnings received by North-East workers has fallen by 7.9 per cent since 2008 as union leaders warn of strike action ahead if economy-boosting pay rises are not agreed.

Employees in Hartlepool - a fall of 17.3 per cent - and Darlington – 14.2 per cent - have been hardest hit by the economic downturn, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

In contrast, the real value of earnings in Stockton fell by just 2.5 per cent and in South Tyneside by 2.1 per cent.

Loading article content

Tom Brennan, GMB regional secretary, believes the figures highlight why the nation is on the tip of a triple dip recession.

He said: “Consumer spending is the single biggest component of demand in the economy and with the real value of wages from employment falling there is no mystery as to why the economy is in a downward spiral.

“The replacing of full-time permanent jobs with part time and temporary lower paid jobs is part of this. “ In North Yorkshire, the value of earnings fell by 6.7 per cent, while in York they dropped by eight per cent.

The report showed that average gross earnings - before inflation of 14.8 per cent is taken into account - rose in Darlington by just £109 from £20,632 to £20,741 over the four years. In Hartlepool, average earning fell by £622.

Average gross earnings were lowest in Redcar and Cleveland at £19,592 in 2008, rising £243 to £19,835 last year.

The GMB is using the figures to highlight its living wage campaign of £7.45 an hour (£8.30 in London) for public and private sectors.

“GMB is seeking negotiated settlements in the forthcoming pay round. If such settlements are not on offer GMB has already said that ballots for strike action will be inevitable.

“A living wage and pay rises to help hard-pressed families as bills go through the roof are needed to boost the economy and stop the downward spiral,” said Mr Brennan.

Nationally, the real value of average earnings of all employees between April 2008 and November 2012 has fallen been 12.8 per cent.

London saw the biggest fall in real value earnings – down 17.4 per cent.