Union survey finds Sainsbury’s workers forced to use payday loans, struggling to pay for children’s school uniforms and unable to afford a holiday in years
The union says it is ‘the first salvo’ in a campaign for a substantial pay increase for 16,000 members working at the supermarket giant.
The Unite survey found staff widely reported having debt problems, relying on tax credits and pay day loans, with many saying they have been unable to afford to take a holiday for many years.
Pressures on family life were commonly reported, and one member claimed the pressures trying to survive on low pay led to the break up of his marriage.
The revelations come as Sainsbury’s governing board prepares to decide on a 2012 pay increase for staff.
The union says many members take home pay barely above the national minimum wage while by the supermarket’s chief executive Justin King earned in excess of £3m in 2010/2011.
Unite’s national officer for food and drink, Jennie Formby, said: “There is a yawning chasm between the ideals that Sainsbury’s espouses and the reality that many of our members face as they struggle in their daily lives.
“We want to drive home the message to the company that prides itself on being a good corporate citizen that it should practice what it preaches and award its workforce a fair, decent and living wage.
“Our members have seen a significant reduction in their living standards following year on year below inflation pay increases yet senior executives have lottery-winning earnings every year and Sainsbury’s profits continue to improve, with latest results showing profits up 7.1 per cent and sales up 6.8 per cent.
“Our members have helped create this highly profitable company and deserve a fair share of the wealth they have helped generate on a daily basis.
“While our survey is a snapshot, we believe that it is the tip of the iceberg caused by years of low pay and it should be addressed as a matter of priority by the company; ‘Live well for less’ must not mean ‘Pay your staff less’.”
The union is calling on the company to listen to the concerns of its workforce and respond positively to their claim for a living wage.
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