Sainsbury’s shareholders reject living wage call despite cost-of-living crisis

Caption courtesy by the Retail Gazette
  • Shareholders in Sainsbury’s have rejected a call for the business to become an accredited living wage employer
  • Chairman Martin Scicluna said that becoming a living wage employer would reduce the company’s flexibility

By guest author Georgia Wright from Retail Gazette.

Sainsbury’s shareholders have rejected a motion to introduce the real Living Wage by July 2023 after its chairman warned it would reduce the grocer’s flexibility.

Investors voted against the special resolution at its annual general meeting earlier today, co-ordinated by non-profit group ShareAction.

Resolution 21 required 75 % of votes in favour to pass, 83.31 % of shareholders voted against the resolution, while 16.69 % voted in favour of it.

Sainsbury’s chairman Martin Scicluna warned that becoming an accredited living wage employer would reduce the company’s flexibility even as the cost of living for its staff continues to soar.

“The Board firmly believes the Company must preserve the right to make independent business decisions which are not determined by an external organisation and therefore did not support Resolution 21,” it said in a statement.

Scicluna said: “We are 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.”

Mr Scicluna said that he believes the company pays well, but rejected the call from ShareAction.

“We would like to thank our shareholders for their overwhelming votes of support and confidence in how Simon and his team are running the business. 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.”