Unite, Britain's biggest union, has warned the board of supermarket giant Sainsbury's not to swallow the profits made in this first quarter but instead reward hard-working staff who are fighting for a living wage.
The supermarket chain extended its run of sales growth to a 34th quarter in a row with like-for-like sales rising 0.8 per cent - excluding petrol forecourt operations - in the 12 weeks to June.
Unite recently submitted its pay claim for workers, many of whom earn less than £7 an hour, thereby qualifying for social security assistance including benefits and food bank support. The union is demanding a substantial increase including topping-up wages in order to make the minimum salary up to the living wage for workers across the supermarket chain.
Commenting, Unite's national officer for food and drink Rhys McCarthy said: "Before the corks pop in the Sainsbury's boardroom management needs to give serious consideration to the plight of its workforce, the very people who have helped the company achieve success in a time of recession.
"Many workers are on low wages and face a daily struggle to raise their families and keep a roof above their heads. There is something very distasteful about profits made by a business selling superior food products while its workforce's wages are low enough for them to qualify for food bank support.
"Sainsbury's has a duty to pay them decently, and at a level where the state does not have to step in to top up wages to a living level while the boardroom is awash with cash.
"Our pay claim will look to put this right. We urge Sainsbury's to do the right thing and support it."
Sainsbury's luxury Taste the Difference brand now accounts for £1 billion of its sales. Sainsbury’s annual report said CEO Justin King's total remuneration rose 23 per cent, from £3.48 million to £4.27 million in the year to March 2013.
Contact Ciaran Naidoo on 07768 931 315
Notes to editors:
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.5 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.