Price tag message puts spotlight on Tesco wages

Campaigners for the Living Wage have been hijacking Tesco's shelves to put the media spotlight on the retailer ahead of its annual general meeting this Friday.

Living Wage campaign: In the style of Tesco price tags
Living Wage campaign: In the style of Tesco price tags

A picture of a message they have designed in the style of Tesco’s yellow shelf-edge price tags (above) has been circulating on social media.
 
ShareAction and Citizens UK have claimed responsibility for the campaign, which is promoting a petition for Tesco, as one of the UK’s largest private sector employers, to raise its pay to the Living Wage.

According to ShareAction's head of media Alison Martin the message was spread by a small group of volunteers in a handful of London stores and was intended to "put the Living Wage back on Tesco's agenda".

"Tesco was in dialogue with Living Wage campaigners three years ago but the issue seems to have dropped off its agenda," she said. "We wanted to put it back on the agenda and did so by putting it on to its shelves. We want it to recognise that in order to keep the ‘finest’ staff, you have to ‘value’ them, and you don’t do that by keeping them in working poverty."

The campaigners are planning for the petition to be handed to the Tesco board by a former Tesco employee, Amy Bradley, at the company’s annual general meeting this Friday.

The Living Wage is defined by the Living Wage Commission as an hourly rate of income calculated according to a basic cost of living in the UK and defined as the minimum amount of money needed to enjoy a basic, but socially acceptable, standard of living.

It is currently pegged at £7.65 an hour, and at £8.80 in London to take account of the higher cost of living in the city.

The national minimum wage is £6.31 an hour across the country.
 
ShareAction CEO Catherine Howarth said: "This is an opportunity for the company to answer its critics and, as the UK’s largest private sector employer, set an example for the retail sector."
 
Citizens UK organiser Stefan Baskerville said: "Working with ShareAction we are calling on Tesco to consider how implementation of the Living Wage could help tackle in-work poverty for its lowest paid staff."
 
"The best employers are voluntarily signing up to pay the Living Wage now. The Living Wage is a robust calculation that reflects the real cost of living, rewarding a hard day’s work with a fair day’s pay," he added.

A Tesco spokesperson said: "We pay one of the highest hourly rates in the industry, on average between five and eight per cent more than our major competitors.

"The Living Wage only recognises basic pay, but our reward package is much broader than that. When our colleague discount, Shares in Success scheme and employer pension contributions are taken into account, all our staff receive above the living wage, both in London and in the rest of the UK."

The petition has received 27,072 signatures, compared with 5,000 yesterday afternoon.

This article was amended at 4pm to include a comment from Tesco and update the number of signatures on the petition.

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