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Sainsbury's Faces Shareholder Vote On Workers Pay

Sainsbury's shareholders are set to vote on a resolution at this year's annual meeting calling for Britain's second biggest supermarket group to commit to paying the so called real Living Wage to all its workers by July 2023.

Responsible investment group ShareAction, which is co-ordinating the move, said on Monday the resolution has been filed by an investor coalition managing £2.2 trillion ($2.9 trillion) that includes Legal and General Investment Management Fidelity International, HSBC Asset Management and Nest.

It is the first resolution calling for a listed firm to become a Living Wage accredited employer.

The real Living Wage is established by the Living Wage Foundation and independently calculated by the Resolution Foundation according to how much workers and their families need to live.

The rates are currently £11.05 ($14.58) per hour in London and £9.90 per hour in the rest of the United Kingdom.

That compares to Britain's main government-mandated minimum wage rate of £8.91 an hour, which is due to rise 6.6% to £9.50 an hour on 1 April.

New Pay Rates

In January, Sainsbury's, one of the UK's biggest private sector employers, set new pay rates for directly employed workers that will see it hit the real Living Wage for staff in inner London and outside the capital.

However, its rate of £10.50 for workers in outer London fell short of the real Living Wage for that region.

It did not make any commitment relating to the pay of third-party staff, such as cleaners and security guards.

"Furthermore, Sainsbury’s have made no commitment that pay will continue to increase in line with the cost of living in future years.  Accrediting as a Living Wage employer would remove this uncertainty and guarantee all workers a wage that they can live on," ShareAction said.

Colleague Feedback

A spokesperson for Sainsbury's said colleague feedback from its pay review had been positive and it had to balance the needs of all its stakeholders.

"It is vital that we not only pay our colleagues fairly but that we are able to invest significantly to offer customers great value," said the spokesperson.

Sainsbury's annual shareholders meeting will be held on 7 July.

News by Reuters edited by Donna Ahern Checkout. For more Retail stories click here. Click subscribe to sign up for the Checkout print edition

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