Checkout staff from Sainsbury’s branches across the UK who are members of the union Unite protested on 13 July outside the organisation’s annual general meeting in London.
Many staff wore masks depicting Justin King, chief executive of Sainsbury’s, and t-shirts that read: “Justin – try something new today, pay a living wage”.
Members of Unite are protesting against Sainsbury’s pay policy, demanding that their pay be increased from the current minimum of £6.31 an hour. Unite has submitted a pay claim to Sainsbury’s management.
Jennie Formby, national officer at Unite, said: “The Sainsbury’s workforce deserves a fair pay rise as their employer continues to profit from their hard work.
“The protest reflects the anger that the employees feel about the prospect of yet another below inflation pay deal, which in the current economic climate results in a pay cut for them.
“The possibility that some 12,000 workers could receive a pay cut is beyond comprehension. The staff that protested outside the annual general meeting are questioning why it is that, while the organisation continues to enjoy record sales and the chief executive receives a bumper bonus, the workforce are being told to accept a reduction in their living conditions, as their already low pay is further squeezed.
“It is only right that the dedicated workforce, many of which are female and work part-time for family reasons, who form the backbone of this organisation are given a fair pay settlement which reflects the outstanding performance of Sainsbury’s.”
A spokesperson from Sainsbury’s said: “No colleagues are having their pay cut. For a number of reasons, a small proportion of colleagues are paid above the maximum level for their role and also above the market rate.
“We are therefore working to ensure that we pay all colleagues fairly and equally for performing the same or similar roles.
“The views and ideas of staff are represented to us through our colleague councils. We have a good relationship with both Unite and Usdaw as the recognised trade unions in our business and we are committed to these relationships and to developing them further.
“We meet with representatives of our colleague councils and unions to discuss a variety of staff-related issues, including pay and reward. However we do not negotiate pay or other terms and conditions with either trade union in our retail environment.
“We will announce the detail of this year’s retail colleague pay review at the usual time in August.”
Read more articles on pay strategies and policies