Public sector increases boost pay awards to 3 per cent

 Pay awards have picked up, running at 3 per
cent up to and including the three months to May 2002, according to independent
analysts Industrial Relations Services (IRS).

Settlements
dropped to 2.5 per cent just before Christmas, but have since bounced back,
giving a revised figure for April of 2.8 per cent. The spread of settlements
has also moved up and narrowed, with half of all deals to May worth between 2.2
per cent and 3.4 per cent.

IRS
attributes the overall increase to relatively generous public sector awards.
Private sector deals as a whole remain fixed on 2.5 per cent, with
manufacturing deals falling behind those for the service sector.

Mark
Crail, managing editor of IRS Employment Review, commented on the results:
"Despite the increase in the headline rate, there really is little
indication here that the private sector is overcoming the weak economic
conditions of the past six to nine months. Manufacturers in particular clearly
have little room to manoeuvre.

"Looking
back to the same period last year, two-thirds of employers were then settling
at a higher level. A matched sample of 107 settlements shows that 64 per cent
have agreed a lower figure this year, with just 19 per cent awarding a higher
increase.

"Any
increase over the next few months is likely to indicate a rise in inflation
rather than a recovery in employer confidence."

By Ben Willmott

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