Don’t panic over rise in pay settlement levels, says IRS

Pay awards have increased to
2.7 per cent for the three months to the end of July 2002 – a rise of 0.2 per
cent on the revised June figure, according 
to independent analysts Industrial Relations Services (IRS).

While this marks an increase, IRS
warns it is unwise to assume a significant rise in pay expectations. 

Further, recent stock market
volatility is likely to dampen down pay expectations as an atmosphere of
uncertainty clouds much of the private sector.

Other findings include:

● Services remain ahead
of manufacturing ­- settlement levels in the service sector, at 3 per cent
continue to run ahead of those in manufacturing (2.8 per cent), although the
gap between them has narrowed to just 0.2 per cent.

● Deals are generally
worth less than a year ago. An analysis of a matched sample of 49 awards
monitored by IRS  reveals that
two-thirds of settlements with effective dates between 1 May and 31 July 2002
are worth less than the comparable deal in the same period last year. Only 16
per cent of reviews are worth more, with a similar percentage pitched at
exactly the same level

Acting editor of IRS Pay and
Benefits Bulletin, Charles Cotton, said:

"The summer months are not
noted for the intensity of pay bargaining, with many key decision-makers away
on well-deserved breaks in advance of the autumn wage round. On their return,
they are likely to face a relatively benign negotiating environment even though
some key indicators are now edging upwards. Our message is don’t panic about
this month’s rise."

IRS points out that the data
for July is provisional, and may be subject to revision as further settlements
are added in the coming weeks. To date, IRS has monitored approximately one
third of deals that are usually effective at this time of year.

By Ben Willmott

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