At her May Day speech in Helsinki, President of UNI’s Finnish affiliate PAM Annika Rönni-Sällinen gave a rallying cry for workers’ wages to keep up with the soaring cost-of-living.
PAM, who is issuing a strike warning, says that workers earning lower wages are particularly disadvantaged by the current general pay rise model. An across-the-board increase of 2 per cent for all economic sectors, for example, paired with climbing prices, widens the pay gap for employees at the bottom of the pay scale.
“We need to change the way working conditions are established now, because without a fundamental change, working people will struggle to pay their bills and feed their families. The cost-of-living crisis is particularly difficult for people in precarious work and low-income positions,” said Rönni-Sällinen.
She called for a restoration of a wage system that is based on solidarity and that would reduce the gap between the highest and lowest earners in the economy.
This price squeeze is not only being felt in Finland. Working people throughout the world are feeling the crunch as the cost-of-living skyrockets and wages remain flat.
As unions exit a debilitating global pandemic which saw the loss of millions of jobs and a terrible impact on the vulnerable, the war in Ukraine threatens to make food and energy unaffordable for millions.
Around the world, unions like PAM and workers are fighting back to ensure that wages keep pace with spiralling inflation and working families are not overwhelmed by rocketing prices.
In the UK, UNI affiliate Unite the Union are demanding that the “profiteers who made billions from the pandemic and surging energy costs must be made to give back to workers and the public on whose backs their money was made.”
In Spain, France and Belgium, unions like CCOO, UGT, CGT and FGTB/ABVV are taking to the streets to protest the rising costs of food, light and fuel, which have been exacerbated by war in Ukraine and threaten their members livelihoods.
UNI General Secretary Christy Hoffman echoed Ronni-Sallinen’s call to action saying, “All over the world, wages are falling due to inflation, and working people are struggling to afford energy, food, and basic amenities due to skyrocketing prices.
“The only way we can successfully meet the challenge of the cost-of-living crisis, is through collective bargaining and strong unions strong unions like PAM demanding more from employers and governments.”