Sainsbury’s and M&S to face shareholder pressure over pay

Sainsbury’s will be put under pressure this week by shareholders demanding the Big 4 grocer to pay all employees and contracted workers the national living wage.

The move follows Sainsbury’s recently increasing the minimum wage for its direct employees in January to £9.90 an hour outside of London and £11.05 an hour for workers in the city, to surpass the national living wage.

However, campaign group ShareAction revealed there has been no commitment to match the living wage in the long-term nor have pay rises been extended to contracted staff such as cleaners.

The campaign group, which will be present at the supermarket giant’s annual general meeting on 7 July 2022, alongside Legal & General, HSBC and pension fund Nest, have all backed the idea of pay increases at the grocer.

READ MORE: Ex-Sainsbury’s CEO warns of double digit food inflation

Currently, Sainsbury’s is being challenged to commit to matching the basic living wage amidst the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, as it also agreed a £3.8 million pay package and bonus package to boss Simon Roberts.

Shareholder advisory group PIRC has also called on shareholders to oppose the remuneration package for bosses, including Roberts overall pay deal.

The move comes as M&S also faces challenges with shareholders against bumper bonuses paid to its former CEO Steve Rowe, while the company has still not returned dividend payouts. As a result, shareholders will vote on this issue at its annual general meeting tomorrow.

“It is hugely exciting to see companies, especially mammoth UK names such as M&S and Sainsbury’s, being challenged thoroughly on a public stage. It is no longer enough for a company to pay lip-service – shareholders want to see real, meaningful, change,” Lee Wild, head of  equity strategy at interactive investor said.

“The resolution, driven by Share Action, comes at a time when the cost-of-living crisis continues to bite, and lower-paid workers across the UK are particularly vulnerable.”

Wils added: “Therefore, a company of Sainsbury’s size and scale can reasonably be expected to give all staff the basic standard of living – and many other profitable companies will, or already are, facing pressure on this issue too.”

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