Sainsbury’s shareholders vote against commitment to pay real living wage

Sainsbury’s shareholders voted against a special resolution for Britain’s second-largest supermarket group to pledge to pay the so-called real living wage to all of its workers by July 2023, at its annual general meeting on Thursday.

The Living Wage Certification Special Resolution received just 16.7% of the votes cast and was “overwhelmingly rejected by shareholders,” the company said.

Sainsbury’s, one of Britain’s largest private sector employers with a workforce of 189,000, had recommended that shareholders vote against the resolution.

“We strongly believe in paying people well for the great work they do for our customers every day,” said Martin Scicluna, chairman of Sainsbury’s.

“We also believe that we should make all corporate investment decisions independently and that these decisions should not be outsourced to a third party.”

Special resolution

The special resolution was submitted by a coalition of investors that includes Legal & General and Nest. It was coordinated and filed by ShareAction, a non-governmental organization that focuses on responsible investing.

Proxy advisers Glass Lewis and ISS had also recommended that Sainsbury’s investors vote against the resolution, with Glass Lewis saying that adopting the ShareAction proposal “could border on micromanagement by shareholders”.

The actual living wage was established by the charity Living Wage Foundation and independently calculated by the Resolution Foundation think tank to determine how much workers and their families need to live on.

Currently, the actual living wage is calculated at £11.05 ($13.56) per hour in London and £9.90 in the rest of the UK. The main minimum wage rate imposed by the British government is £9.50 per hour.

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Michael A. Bynum