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pounds 20,000 a year wages? If only that was true, says union chief.

SCOTTISH trade union chiefs angrily dismissed claims yesterday that average full-time wages were now above pounds 20,000.

They described the report, by pay consultants Income Data Services, as an insult.

They say the figure includes the pay of multi-millionaire footballers and pop stars and "fat cat" bosses.

One source at the Scottish Low Pay Unit said: "If you take five Scots workers, and one of them is Celtic's Henrik Larsson on around pounds 40,000 a week, then the average wage won't exactly reflect what the others earn."

Even with all the high earners taken into account, Scotland falls well below the average, at pounds 18,871.

Areas like Humberside, Yorkshire and Wales fare even worse. Yet in London and the south east of England, the average is around pounds 27,000.

STUC deputy general secretary Graham Smith said he was "surprised" at the report, adding: "I would call on the IDS to explain just what methodology they used."

His cynicism was echoed by Robert Parker, Scottish regional secretary of the giant GMB union.

He said: "It does not mean that the majority of people in Scotland - or the UK - are taking home over pounds 20,000.

"It is clear from the figure that a small group of high earners means that the average is skewed upwards."

He said that when the minimum wage came in, nearly 11 per cent of all employees in Scotland stood to benefit, almost 250,000 people.

"Clearly all of these people are earning nowhere near pounds 20,000."

Yesterday, the IDS admitted that its figures are an estimate, based on Government statistics last autumn, and 75 per cent of the UK workforce wouldn't make that sort of money.

Glasgow nurse Lynne MacDonald, 34, of Partick, works at the city's Western Infirmary, part of a highly- trained team doing state-of-the-art drug trials and research.

She considers herself relatively well-paid with a pounds 17,000 salary.

But she added: "To suggest that the average wage for full time workers is pounds 20,000 is nothing short of an insult to the many people in this country who work hard for long hours, for far less than that."
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Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Houston, Simon
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 6, 1999
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