Sainsbury's workers are finding it more and more difficult to 'Live Well for Less', according to an independent survey by Unite, Britain's biggest union, of its members at the retail giant.
The results coincide with today’s (Wednesday 10 July) annual general meeting of Sainsbury’s and show that almost a quarter of those surveyed rely on tax credits or other benefits to supplement their income, with more than 60 per cent relying on working tax credits.
More than a third of those claiming benefits have recently had them cut. Over the past six months nearly 30 per cent of respondents have had to borrow money to make ends meet, with eight per cent resorting to payday loans.
Unite is urging Sainsbury's shareholders at today’s AGM to remember the contribution of workers to this year's record-breaking profits.
The union has put in a claim for a substantial pay rise that brings pay minima to Living Wage levels for the company's 157,000 retail employees. Chief executive Justin King's pay package was up 23 per cent to £4.3 million for the year to March 2013, with a £20,000 pay rise in basic salary.
Unite’s survey also found that most members were cutting down on spending, with more than a third cutting back on food, and one per cent using a food bank. In the past six months 15 per cent had been refused extra hours and six per cent had had their hours cut.
Unite national officer for food, drink and tobacco Rhys McCarthy said: "Thanks to the efforts of the workers, Sainsbury's shareholders are enjoying a 9.3 per cent rise in earnings per share in this highly profitable company, but at the same time our members are struggling to make ends meet month after month.
“Low pay at Sainsbury's is being underpinned by the taxpayer through tax credits and other benefits. The people delivering Sainsbury’s profits are being hit by a double whammy of poverty pay and cuts to in-work benefits by the coalition government.
“At the same time as voting on massive pay awards for the top executives, shareholders should also vote on whether those on shop floor struggling to make ends meet should be paid the living wage.
“It's time for Sainsbury's to share its profits not just with its shareholders and CEO, but with its employees. It's time to bring the living wage to the high street."
For further information please contact Bridget Henderson on 07761 702085 or Alex Flynn on 07967 665869.
Notes to editors:
The independent survey was conducted for Unite by Mass1, a social research company and involved 1,771 Unite members working for Sainsbury’s.
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.