Sainsbury’s is to give 137,000 shopfloor staff a 4% pay rise, their biggest increase in a decade, after pressure from low pay campaigners.
The supermarket said its standard rate of pay for store workers would go up from £7.08 to £7.36 an hour from next week. It remains below the level living wage campaigners have called for, but will be above George Osborne’s £7.20 national living wage, a new minimum for over 25s that comes into force next April.
Sainsbury’s said it would not differentiate between over and under 25s in its workforce, meaning 40,000 younger store staff will receive the new wage. The only exception will be for the 1,500-2,000 staff under 18 who receive a lower training wage during their first six months in the business.
The 4% rise will only go to regular store staff. Sainsbury’s declined to comment on its plans for the 24,000 non-store staff and store managers. The trade union Usdaw said it would continue to negotiate on behalf of those who missed out, but Joanne McGuinness, a national officer at Usdaw, said: “I’m pleased the company has listened to us, as significant increases in retail pay are long overdue.”
The move was welcomed by Gillian Owen of Citizens UK, one of the groups that has been putting pressure on major retailers to pay the independently evaluated living wage of £7.85 across the UK and £9.15 in London.
She said: “It’s a brilliant step. We welcome it and encourage Sainsbury’s to continue to look at how it could implement a living wage as and when possible in its business. We know it is leading in its sector and particularly welcome the fact Sainsbury’s is including all staff in this wage rise, regardless of age.”
Sainsbury’s was one of a string of retailers to face questions at annual shareholder meetings about low staff pay from campaigners at Share Action and Citizens UK. They highlighted the fact that shop workers are potentially receiving billions of pounds of in-work benefits from the government because their rate of pay is too low to live on.
The focus on pay has already resulted in the Co-operative handing shopfloor staff an 8% pay rise this year so they will earn £7.28 an hour from October and £7.30 an hour from next year.
At the annual meeting, Mike Coupe, the Sainsbury’s chief executive, told campaigners he was personally committed to doing a better job on workers’ pay.
After announcing the pay rise on Wednesday, he said: “I’ve talked to thousands of colleagues over the past year and they tell me how much they value their package of benefits and the flexibility that we can offer as an employer, as well as hourly pay that has always been well over the minimum wage. Their hard work, talent and dedication have been central to our success and will remain so in the future.”
Sainsbury’s is already the best payer of the big four supermarkets. Tesco pays more per hour, but does not remunerate staff during their lunch break. Other benefits for Sainsbury’s staff include life insurance, a discount card and an annual bonus. This year, 133,000 staff shared a bonus pot of £50m.
The chancellor George Osborne said: “At Budget I announced a new settlement for the British people, one that will create a higher wage, lower tax and lower welfare economy backed by a new National Living Wage. Britain deserves a pay rise and today’s announcement from Sainsbury’s that from September they will pay their hardworking staff at least the National Living Wage, is fantastic news and a real vote of confidence in the UK economy.”
How the supermarkets compare on pay
Sainsbury’s £7.36, paid breaks, 10% staff discount and annual bonus
Tesco £7.39, no paid breaks, 10% staff discount
Asda £6.89 (rising to £7 from October), paid breaks, 10% staff discount and annual bonus
Morrisons £6.83, paid breaks, 10% staff discount and annual bonus
Waitrose £6.92, paid breaks, 15% staff discount and profit share bonus (11% of salary last year)
The Co-operative £6.73 (rising to £7.28 from October), paid breaks, 10% staff discount on food
Iceland £7.12, no paid breaks, 10% staff discount (20% at Christmas)
Marks & Spencer £7.41, no paid breaks, 20% staff discount and annual bonus
Aldi £7.25, paid breaks, 10% staff discount
Lidl £7.00, no paid breaks, 10% staff discount
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