Sainsbury’s faces growing pressure to supply living wage

The resolution remains on the ballot, as Sainsbury’s haven’t extended this commitment to their subcontracted staff such as cleaners and security guards

Over 100,000 members of the public have joined the call for Sainsbury’s to become a Living Wage employer, with a group co-ordinated by Organise and 38 Degrees recently attending Sainsbury’s headquarters in London to submit a petition of 102,764 signatures.

Included in the report were also a number of testimonials from Sainsbury’s staff regarding the challenges they are facing in the current economic climate, with one saying: “All I do is work and I can’t afford to do anything else.”

The petition comes one week before investors will vote on a resolution calling on Sainsbury’s to be accredited as a Living Wage employer. The vote will take place at the company’s AGM on 7 July.

Sainsbury’s previously announced it was “uplifting” pay for London staff, meaning all directly employed staff currently earn the real Living Wage. However, the resolution remains on the ballot as Sainsbury’s hasn’t extended this commitment to its subcontracted staff such as cleaners and security guards, and without accreditation there is no commitment direct employees will continue to earn a wage that meets the cost of living.

Several shareholders have publicly declared they will vote in support of the resolution, including Aviva Investors, Coutts and Co, the Coal Pension Trustees and Global Systemic Investors.

The original co-filing group behind the resolution was backed by the UK’s largest asset manager, Legal and General Investment Management, and the largest workplace pension scheme, Nest, alongside 108 individual shareholders from a variety of backgrounds, from Sainsbury’s workers to employment barristers to MPs.

Rachel Hargreaves, campaigns manager at ShareAction, said: “Today’s action is a powerful demonstration from the public of the importance of addressing low pay for the most vulnerable key workers amidst the cost-of-living crisis. 

“There is clear value for employers and investors in Living Wage accreditation, as well as an imperative to take responsibility for the impact of poverty pay on individuals and on society. People across the country are looking to investors to vote in support of the resolution.”

Veronica Hawking, head of campaigns at 38 Degrees, added: “The public are sending a clear message to Sainsbury’s today, ahead of their AGM: pay all your workers a living wage now. 

“With reports that more and more supermarket employees are turning to food banks, and 1 in 3 Sainsbury’s workers regularly worried about feeding their families, shareholders must do the right thing – customers will be watching.”

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