Manufacturing pay settlements have fallen to a historic low, according to the latest figures released by manufacturers' organisation EEF.

The figures on 236 settlements covering 52,280 employees revealed that, on average, manufacturing settlements for the three months to the end of May fell to 0.8 per cent - down from one per cent for the previous three months to the end of April 2009.

Of these, the average settlement was 0.8 per cent in March, 0.9 per cent in April and 0.4 per cent in May 2009.

Last September, this figure was running as high as 3.1 per cent, revealing the impact of the economic downturn on pay. The report also showed that the number companies freezing pay increased by two thirds - the highest level since EEF’s survey began in 1987.

David Yeandle, EEF head of employment policy, said: ‘These latest figures demonstrate not just the severity of the downturn since last autumn but the serious efforts that companies have taken to control their costs.

‘Compared to previous recessions, this period has also been marked by employees and their representatives working positively with employers to manage pay as a way of helping maintain employment levels,’ he added.