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Nov 21st, 2014

Will Tesco step forward to end poverty pay?

By Robin Priestley

Thanks to the support of 34,000 members of 38 Degrees, Tesco has agreed to a new dialogue about becoming a Living Wage employer!

On 38 Degrees’ Campaigns By You website, Amy Bradley, a former Tesco worker, supported by the team at ShareAction and our partner organisation Citizens UK, hosted a petition calling for Tesco to provide a wage that makes ends meet for all their staff. 34,000 of you joined in this call, showing to Tesco that their customers, and potential customers, care about how they pay their workers.  ShareAction coupled the petition with spoof shelf labels which we shared on social media to highlight the need for Tesco to “value” their “finest” workers.

And then together we took the message straight to their CEO! Their annual shareholders’ meeting (AGM) was the perfect opportunity to raise concern over low pay directly with the top directors of Tesco. With the support of 34,000 people for our question, and more than 4000 people overwhelming Tesco’s Twitter and Facebook on the AGM day, our question was heard loud and clear and the CEO promised a meeting to discuss our concerns.

More than 8000 members of 38 Degrees then emailed him directly to make sure he followed through with a meeting. It took a while with all that’s been happening at Tesco to get dates set, but a few weeks ago we met with Tesco’s senior executives and began a discussion on them becoming a Living Wage employer.

Together we highlighted to Tesco how important the Living Wage is to their customers. 90% who answered the survey said they’d be more likely to shop at Tesco if they paid the Living Wage. Of course we would!

Tesco still says that their benefits package makes up for the low rates of pay, but as we’ve said before you can’t pay your rent with a pension contribution or heat your home on a discount voucher. But we’re all committed to continue the discussion, and are providing them with more information about the business benefits and how the Living Wage is calculated.

It’s time the retail sector took poverty pay seriously and make steps to pay workers enough to meet the costs of living. Tesco is one among several big UK companies like Sainsbury’s, Sports Direct, and Primark who don’t yet pay fair. Let’s come up with more ideas together soon to make this a happy Christmas for everyone in UK retail.

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