Pay deals rise despite uncertainty

UK pay deals held steady in the first quarter of 2003 at 2.9 per cent,
despite uncertainty about the impact of the war in Iraq and inflation rising
above 3 per cent.

According to research, the upturn in the level of settlements seen at the
start of the new year was sustained in March, with the headline measure of
basic pay awards (the median) remaining unchanged for the third consecutive

Figures from IRS (Industrial Relations Services) Pay Databank not only
indicate that the upward hike in pay awards is more than a temporary blip, but
also provide a benchmark for spring pay bargaining.

The research also reveals that public sector awards have stayed ahead of private
in the 12 months to March 2003.

The median basic pay settlement in the public sector was 3.4 per cent
compared with 2.5 per cent in the private sector.

David Carr, Pay and Benefits Bulletin editor, said: "The overall
economic picture is unclear, with consumer and business confidence having both
taken serious knocks recently.

"However, forecasts for UK economic growth look almost healthy compared
with those for other countries, such as those in the eurozone.

"Looking forward, the only constant is the likelihood of continued

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