Written by 3:12 am European Union

Trade unions on the frontline in the cost-of-living crisis – Esther Lynch

As the cost of living soars, defending the living standards of workers and their families has become the primary concern of trade unions.

cost of living,inflation,prices,trade unions
Big profits—BP’s second-quarter profits were more than three times a year earlier (Tommy Lee Walker / shutterstock.com)

On Friday, European Union energy ministers will meet in emergency session, to discuss measures to mitigate high energy prices and the state of preparedness for the winter. They must take decisive steps to tackle this crisis: immediate action is needed to support families unable to buy food or heat their homes.

Gas prices have risen seven-fold, with a knock-on impact on the cost of electricity. This in turn generates price hikes across the economy. Overheads are higher than ever and energy-intensive, industrial companies are facing growing operational difficulties. The severity of the impact hits each sector differently, from hospitality to manufacturing. But many businesses are already confronting unmanageable increases in running costs, adding to the risk of closures and job losses.

The crisis is now, not sometime in the future. The challenge is to stem the rising cost of living, protect jobs and incomes and share the burdens in a socially just way. Over the summer the European Trade Union Confederation and its national affiliates have proposed urgent measures to tackle this cost-of-living crisis.

Failing to keep pace

The figures are frightening. By July, the EU inflation rate was 9.8 per cent (8.9 per cent in the euro area)—the highest since EU records began. And that overall figure masks huge differences between member states, with inflation in Estonia running at more than 23 per cent and its Baltic neighbours not far behind. By contrast, wage rises have totally failed to keep pace, averaging just 3.8 per cent across the EU so far in 2022. The European Commission has confirmed that prices, not wages, are driving inflation.