Brunel Pension Partnership has filed a resolution with supermarket retailer Sainsbury’s calling for the introduction of the Living Wage for its 189,000 directly employed staff.
The pool’s action has been made as part of a coalition made up of 10 institutional investors worth £2.2 trillion plus 108 individual shareholders lobbying for the UK’s second largest supermarket to adopt the proposal.
The pool is keen to emphasise the fundamental role that workers outside the health and emergency services demonstrated throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, yet wages have not kept pace with inflation.
Brunel feels low pay and income inequality are not only unjust, but reduce economic growth, continue existing gender, ethnicity and pension pay gaps and create the opportunity for exploitation. Responsible investors must manage these risks by setting minimum standards for corporate conduct, to include Living Wage accreditation, it says.
Sainsbury’s reported strong results at the start of 2022, yet almost a third of employees report that they regularly worry about putting food on the table.
Independent charity, the Food Aid Network, reports there are rising numbers of supermarket staff using its food banks.
“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.”
More than four in every 10 (42%) of all supermarket staff in the UK earn below the Living Wage, while 50% of FTSE 100 companies are Living Wage accredited.
“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.