Wages are going up more quickly, with an average rise of 8.2% in pay deals sealed in May, according to figures from employers organisation AWVN.
Wages have now risen for 16 months in a row, the AWVN said, with an average increase of 7.3% so far this year. In 2022, wages rose by an average of 3.8%.
“We have not seen figures like this since the 1970s,” spokesman Jannes van der Velde told the AD. In total, 200 pay deals have been signed so far in 2023 and another 200 will be negotiated before the end of the year.
Wages are being driven up by inflation and the shortage of workers at a time when corporate profits are improving. Inflation rose slightly to 6.1% in May, with food prices up 12.8%, according to national statistics agency CBS.
In addition, unions report a high willingness to strike among their members if employers fail to make a reasonable offer.
In March, trade union federation FNV said there had been 24 stoppages in the first three months of the year as workers called for wage rises to offset soaring inflation.
These included bin collectors’ strikes in major cities, walkouts by bus and train drivers and hospital care being reduced to a weekend rota. Staff at companies including Etos, the Bijenkorf department store chain, PostNL and Douwe Egberts also staged walkouts and there was the first strike in ING history.
The AWVN also pointed out that some firms cannot afford to pay higher wages because they cannot pass on the cost to their clients. And central bank president Klaas Knot recently warned of the risk of wage price spiral if pay demands are not moderated.
The surge in pay rates, he said in May, could drive up inflation and lead to the European Central Bank again increasing interest rates. That would damage the economy, he said. ‘And then we will all be worse off.’
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