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Britain is one of just six EU countries where wages are falling

Luke James
Brussels correspondent
Nurses demonstrate outside Westminster against the cap on public sector pay (Getty)

British workers saw their earnings cut last year while most of their continental colleagues received a healthy pay rise, research reveals.

A new report by the European Trade Union Institute reveals Britain is one of just six EU countries where real wages went down in 2017.

The sobering statistic confounds the economic bounce back announced by “Tigger-like” Chancellor Philip Hammond in his spring statement.

British workers saw their real wages – the value of pay when the cost of living is taken into account – fall by 0.6% between 2016 and 2017, according to the report.

That put Britain fifth bottom of the EU league table for wage growth – behind austerity ravaged Greece and Portugal.

By contrast, workers in France and Germany saw their pay rise by 0.6%.

Graph showing where wages fell or grew in 2017 (ETUI)

And far from being a blip, the report reveals that Britain is one of nine EU countries where real wages haven’t increased since the financial crisis in 2009.

The others are: Italy, Spain, Belgium, Greece, Portugal, Finland, Croatia and Cyprus.

“Despite all the talk of economic recovery, working people in many large countries are still worse off than before the crisis,” said Esther Lynch of the European Trade Union Confederation.

Report author Dr Torsten Muller told Yahoo UK that Brexit played a part in last year’s wage slump.

“After the Brexit decision the pound devalued considerably which resulted in a strong increase of inflation, among other things because of strong price increases for imported goods,” he explained.

Chancellor Philip Hammond said he was “positively Tigger-like” about the economy during his spring statement (Getty)

He also highlighted austerity policies like the public sector pay cap and precarious work practices like zero hour contracts for Britain’s poor performance.

The report shows too that Britain’s low level of ‘worker voice’ in companies contributes to inequality.

There was though some good news in the report for the Chancellor to point to.

Britain, along with the Netherlands, Sweden and Germany, has among the highest percentage of people in work.

The percentage of the population at risk of poverty has also continued to fall faster than in other EU countries.