Sainsbury’s shareholders ‘overwhelmingly’ reject Living Wage accreditation


Sainsbury’s shareholders voted overwhelmingly against the supermarket becoming a Living Wage accredited employer in this morning’s annual general meeting (AGM).

The resolution – which had been submitted by a small group of shareholders and co-ordinated by ShareAction – would have seen the retailer being tied in to wage increases decided by the Living Wage Foundation. 

In a  statement released following the AGM, Sainsbury’s board said it “firmly believes” the company must “preserve the right to make independent business decisions which are not determined by an external organisation”. 

The resolution required 75% of votes in favour in order to pass. It received 16.7% of votes and was therefore “overwhelmingly rejected by shareholders” who did not support the resolution. 

READ MORE: Sainsbury’s under shareholder pressure to pay Living Wage

However, this also means that almost 17% of shareholders did revolt over staff pay, backing the resolution for the supermarket to become a Living Wage accredited employer.

CEO Simon Roberts said Sainsbury’s prided itself on being “industry leaders on colleague pay.”

The supermarket highlighted that staff had seen a 25% increase in pay over the past five years and benefitted from changes such as removing age-related pay. It also said it wants to retain “the flexibility to pay the right rate of pay and benefits to our colleagues,” considering the “specific circumstances” of a particular time.

Commenting on the ShareAction resolution, Sainsbury’s chairman Martin Scicluna said he was “proud to have led the way on colleague pay in our industry for the past five years and to pay our colleagues the living wage regardless of where they work in the country”.

“We believe very strongly in paying people well for the excellent job they do for our customers every single day. We also believe that we need to make all business investment decisions independently and that these decisions should not be outsourced to a third party.”

Share Action also responded to the news, saying that Sainsbury’s must commit to ensuring its pay “will continue to increase in line with the cost of living in future years.”

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