Tesco (profits: £3.8bn) under fire for failing to pay cleaners living wage

Tesco have again come under fire from Living Wage protestors, who yesterday evening demanded Britain’s largest retailer increase cleaners' wages.

By Peter Carrol

Tesco have again come under fire from Living Wage protestors, as a flash mob stormed their Earls Court store yesterday evening demanding Britain’s largest retailer increase cleaners’ wages.

Around 150 protestors, dubbing themselves a ‘flashmop’, sang songs and danced with mops during the protest; watch it:

The protest follows a similar event earlier this month, as their superstore in Bromley-by-Bow was targeted amidst claims that cleaners were being underpaid.

The protestors are drawing attention to the fact the supermarket chain, which reported annual profits of £3.8 billion earlier this year, is failing to ensure subcontractors who supply their cleaners are paying their staff a “living wage” of £8.30 an hour.

Despite the store announcing last week they would increase pay for all staff by 2.7% to at least £7, it has been criticised by campaigners for disregarding cleaners from this threshold. However, a spokeswoman from the store defended their pay policy, stating:

“We can only speak for what we pay our people, not what others pay theirs.”

This assertion runs against the recommendations of the Living Wage Campaign, which places responsibility on the employer to ensure that workers are paid fairly. Tesco set all contract prices when they are outsourcing work. If the price is too low for the contractor to pay the Living Wage, then it is the employers’ responsibility to ensure the price of the contract is increased to accomodate adequate renumeration.

Since its inception in 2000, the Living Wage Foundation campaign has accredited more than 100 Living Wage employers, each of them committing to making sure their workers are paid in line with the minimum requirement. Leading organisations like KPMG and Barclays, the Olympic Delivery Authority and the Greater London Authority have all signed up, with Tesco one of the few major employers remaining who are publicly resisting fair pay for their staff.

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