Wage cuts: Your stories

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Wages have fallen more in real terms in the current economic downturn than ever before, according to a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).

On top of the rising cost of living, one-third of workers who stayed in the same job saw a wage cut or freeze between 2010 and 2011.

We asked BBC News website readers who had been affected to share their experiences.

Sarah Trinder, Oxford

Profile picture of Sarah Trinder

My wages were at £28,000 plus a car allowance as I have to drive around the county.

I have been through two consultations, and I am doing the "same job", but my wage now stands at £20,500 without a car allowance even though I'm expected to drive around more of the county.

I have lost out on my mileage allowance too. This was 55p per mile and now it is 45p.

I have been asked to sign a new contract without the option for redundancy where I would not be paid to travel to work in different offices!

I have lost 26% just in wages alone. With everything together, I must now be on 30%-35% less than I was on in 2004.

Simon Carter, Preston

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I've given up trying to repay the debt and am about to apply for bankruptcy”

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I'm a self-employed network analyst and software developer.

In 2009 my business failed as a result, in part, of the financial crash and I took on many of the debts of the business due to personal guarantees I'd signed.

I thought that after a few years I'd return to the same earning levels I had before the crash and repay the debt but five years later my earnings expectations have halved and many costs have gone up by around 25% (transport, insurances, accommodation etc).

I can't afford to run my old car and stay in hotels (I live in a caravan when on-site) and I've given up trying to repay the debt and am about to apply for bankruptcy. I didn't expect that life can be this tough for someone who is well-paid.

Peter, Suffolk

I work for a print company. We print popular magazines and trade journals, among others.

In April 2012 I was forced to take a 10% pay cut, plus an increase in hours, plus a reduction in holiday entitlement. If not, the company would, employees were told, close in 90 days.

A reduction in hours and pay was very reluctantly accepted. There is still little improvement in the trading position.

I was one of the principal negotiators. As chairman of the union chapel I had a lot to do with the negotiating. Votes were put to a ballot, which narrowly went through. People didn't want to lose their jobs.

Morale is very low now. We are working much longer hours and instead of 24 days holiday a year we now have 19.

James Clark, Godalming

Profile picture of James Clark

I worked for a health charity between 2006 and 2012 and between 2008 and 2011 we experienced no cost of living increase, or, if you prefer, a wage freeze.

However, during this period, the organisation continued to create new jobs, predominantly in fund-raising and communications. Between 2005 and 2011, we had increased our fund-raising income from £14m to £30m - the problem was we never increased capacity in the areas that needed it!

Our finance, HR and IT functions saw practically no increase in staff in this period, but the organisation had in effect doubled in size. The result - 60 redundancies in January 2012, myself being one of them.

The irony was I had already started looking for another job, as much as I loved the one I did, I just couldn't keep up with my basic costs, such as season ticket, utilities, weekly food shop, mortgage etc and was sliding heavily into debt. I did find another job quickly and then was offered my old job back! Crazy!

Thankfully, I was then able to leave with pride and my dignity intact, and cleared my debts from my redundancy pay.

My point is, sometimes with wage cuts or freezes in a recession you need to look between the lines for the real story - the problems in this particular organisation began in their period of rapid growth, back in 2005.

Tim, Dorset

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We have been forced to effectively work for less pay per hour than we were earning 10 years ago”

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In 2008 I had my last 1% increase in my salary as a college lecturer.

After a round of forced redundancies we were told that unless our departments hit above national average targets they would close down.

We entered the last academic year with a new contract, that basically saw us having to work more hours for the same pay (with the NUT claiming it to be the worst contract for college lecturers in the UK).

Our contact hours with the students increased from 22 hours to 27 hours.

I was diagnosed with ME in December, I can't work 27 contract hours.

We were told: "If you don't like the new contract go and find a new job somewhere else.

Thus, we have been forced to effectively work for less pay per hour than we were earning 10 years ago in the same job.

Fewer employees, much bigger workload, and no extra pay. Does that count as a wage cut?

Interviews by Victoria Park

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