01 September 2005

Northern Ireland men have lowest average wage in UK

Belfast Telegraph

By Lisa Smyth
01 September 2005

A senior trade unionist today called for immediate action to address the discrepancy between average salaries in Ulster compared to the rest of the UK.

Tom Gillen, a senior official of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, said people living and working in Northern Ireland "have drawn the short straw" in relation to their annual wage compared to the cost of living.

His comments come after a survey by the website Payfinder.com revealed that the average salary of a man working in Northern Ireland is less than in any other region in the UK.

The website found that the average male salary in Northern Ireland is £25,998, a difference of almost £200 compared to the second lowest region in the UK - the north east of England where the average salary is £26,174.

It also revealed that men in Northern Ireland earn almost £1,000 less than most of their UK counterparts, including Scotland, where the annual male salary is £27,931.

Mr Gillen said: "There is no doubt that people living and working in Northern Ireland suffer greatly.

"We are facing brutal increases in natural gas prices, we have a high level of fuel poverty, we are facing additional water charges and we pay high domestic rates.

"People in Northern Ireland on average pay more for their groceries and we also pay more for petrol and diesel than the rest of the UK, so considering the fact that the average salary in Northern Ireland is so much less, people here have drawn the short straw.

"There are a number of issues that need to be addressed, which would go some way to solve the problem, such as the fuel poverty, high living costs and not least, the massive funding cuts in the education sector.

"Instead, we should be addressing issues of numeracy and literacy which can be a very debilitating factor in people not achieving their earning potential."

Ironically, the survey showed that women in Northern Ireland are ranked third in the UK when it comes to the highest average annual salary, earning £22,581, which Mr Gillen put down to the number of private sector jobs held by women in the province.

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