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Pay deals in ...
Pay deals in January are unchanged from those seen throughout most of 2003,

according to the independent Industrial Relations Services Pay Databank,

published by LexisNexis UK.

As the spring bargaining round approaches, analysis of pay deals - with

effective dates in the three months to 31 January 2004 - indicates

continued settlement stability. Basic deals have now been focused around

the 3% median for 10 successive rolling quarters and all the signs are that

this situation will persist, throughout the rest of the bargaining round.

Other key findings include:

* Spread of awards remains narrow. Half of all basic awards remain in

a narrow band between 2.9% and 3.4%.

* January deals pitched at 3%. 35 of the 48 basic deals in the sample

have effective dates in January 2004. Analysis of these awards indicates

that the median deal is also pitched at 3%.

* Public sector awards remain 0.5 percentage points ahead of those in

the private sector. The median basic settlement in the public sector in

the 12 months to January 2004 remains at 3.5%.

* Signs of pick-up in manufacturing awards. For the 12 months to

January, the median award in manufacturing has edged up to 3%, from 2.9%

in the fourth quarter of last year and 2.8% in the April-September 2003


IRS Pay and Benefits Bulletin editor, David Carr said: 'January is a key

month for settlements in the manufacturing sector, and the 3% benchmark

has become entrenched as the 'going rate', despite many companies

remaining squeezed by weak profitability, a patchy recovery and the

seemingly relentless rise of the pound against the US dollar.

'Looking forward, while there is little, if any, likelihood of basic

pay settlements rising this year, the continued strength of the labour

market will provide some underlying buoyancy to wages as a whole. With

aggregate labour demand remaining high and stable, labour mar ket tightness

and skill shortages are likely to place some upward pressure on wages, as

economic growth gathers pace.'

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