Brunel Pension Partnership has co-filed a resolution calling for the introduction of the Living Wage at Sainsbury’s, which directly employs 189,000 people.
The UK’s second-largest supermarket is the subject of a shareholder action by a coalition comprising ten institutional investors worth £2.2 trillion and 108 individual shareholders.
“This was already an urgent issue – and current global events mean that urgency is increasing by the week,” said Laura Chappell, CEO at Brunel Pension Partnership. “Food prices and energy bills are increasingly unsustainable for many of the lowest-paid employees, but companies like Sainsbury’s have the wherewithal to appropriately compensate a large number of key workers –providing an example for others to follow. As for the financial sense of making the change, it is telling that investors representing £2 trillion in assets are requesting this change.”
The resolution calls on Sainsburys to accredit as a Living Wage employer by July 2023. The resolution will be voted on at the company’s annual general meeting in July 2022.
Covid-19 raised the profile of lay workers like supermarket employees, demonstrating the fundamental role they play in our society. Wages have not kept up, however.
Low pay and income inequality are not only unjust; they also reduce economic growth, perpetuate existing gender, ethnicity and pension pay gaps as well as create opportunity for modern human slavery to propagate. It is the duty of responsible investors to manage these risks by setting minimum standards for corporate conduct, such as Living Wage accreditation.
Sainsburys reported strong results in January but one in three of its staff report they regularly worry about putting food on the table. The Food Aid Network, an independent charity, reports that rising numbers of supermarket staff are using its food banks.
42% of all supermarket staff in the UK earn below the Living Wage, making the sector a wage laggard. 50% of FTSE 100 companies are Living Wage-accredited.
To read more about the campaign and find out how to support and publicise it, you may like to read a blog published by Share Action, the organisation coordinating the campaign.
You can also access the resolution.