Official numbers purporting to show a pick-up in manufacturing pay this spring partially offsetting lower increases in both the service economy and the public sector, were challenged yesterday by the EEF.
National Statistics said average earnings of all kinds, including bonuses, rose by 4.1 per cent year on year in the three months to May.
That was down from 4.4 per cent in the three months to April, and within the Bank of England's "comfort zone" of 4.5 per cent which it regards as compatible with its two per cent inflation target.
"Lower growth in the private sector services sector and the public sector was only partially offset by stronger (pay) growth in the manufacturing sector," NS said.
A spokesman for EEF retorted: "We dispute that."
Pay deals monitored by the EEF averaged 2.7 per cent for the three months to May, including 2.7 per cent for the single month of April, one of the biggest in the year because many companies review pay at the start of each tax year.
Over recent months manufacturing settlements have ranged between 2.5 and 2.7 per cent, the spokesman added.
"We would be very, very surprised if manufacturing earnings and settlements were above the national average," he insisted. "We wouldn't recognise anything like that.
"We have disputed the official figures for manufacturing output for some time."
NS said regular pay, not counting bonuses, rose by 3.8 per cent in the three months to May, up from 3.7 per cent in February/April.
In the private sector regular pay was up four per cent over the year to May, compared with three per cent in the public sector.
Including bonuses, private sector earnings grew by 4.3 per cent during the year, mainly due to higher overtime earn-ings in retailing, compared with a 3.7 per cent increase in the public sector.