Why didn’t I get a raise?

As you are sure all aware, I didn’t get a raise this year, along with millions of others. In fact, I got a nominal raise of 2.2% but with inflation around 4-5% this was a real terms cut. [1] Given that I’ve picked on her husband recently, I thought I’d respond to Bella‘s comment finally.

Bella’s first point is that my employers have faced the same inflation I have. The recent changes in our exchange rate has lowered our international purchasing power, and when I sell wines for a living, that really matters. Likewise fuel costs have increased, and when you ship wine from the antipodes this gets very important. If anything my employer has suffered inflation at a higher rate than I have myself.

Likewise, various tax increases have just made it more expensive to employ someone. VAT has hit me hard, but booze taxes, VAT, and National Insurance has all hit my employer, who employes people and sells booze. So I entirely understand why my wages have not risen as I would have liked.

The fundamental reason I haven’t had a pay rise is that my productivity, the amount of value I add has not increased. If you don’t add more value in your job and others around you do not either, then you simply won’t get a raise. First, you won’t be adding extra value to split up between you and your employer. Second, as productivity has slumped everywhere you don’t have the bagaining power to credibly threaten to go get a better job.

However, all this, to a certain degree, at least in retail, is cyclical – if we were busier, we’d need no more staff, we’d just work more extensively. So my lack of a raise isn’t through my inability to earn one but, with the economy continuing to be depressed, by a situation in which this ability counts for nought.

As Bella points out, non-wage benefits – free coffee, nice people, flexible hours – also form part of your renumeration. Non-wage benefits for me include a large staff discount on wine, and the flexibility to take a weekday off to study for my Masters, so I deserve only a little sympathy for my predicament.

The main reason I kicked up a fuss is that I am treated like an idiot, as people in retail often are.

A lengthy, and largely fruitless boss with my boss’s boss’s boss after my arsey e-mail largely consisted of her obfuscating on the difference between nominal and real values as though she was going to bamboozle me. The reasons my pay was not going to keep pace with inflation was explained (although that my pay wouldn’t keep pace was never explicitly admitted).

Rather than explain the situation initially, I was forced to ask for anything to explain the raw figures I had been presented with. This is the problem with managers, they withhold information unnecessarily just because they can, they lack the incentive to pass it on, but have the authority to do so.


[1] Yes, boohoo, some people didn’t even get that, you’re ungrateful etc., you don’t understand the real world. Any comments along those lines will be deleted.