Campaigners for the Living Wage have started a #StopScrooging digital campaign aimed at 12 of Britain’s biggest high-street retailers asking them to “Stop Scrooging” and “bring the magic back to Christmas” by paying fair. The campaign includes a punk magician named “G.” going in to the stores in question, swapping their shelf price labels for parody shelf labels in an effort to “bring the magic back to Christmas”.
As part of the campaign, Citizens UK leader, Reverend Graham Hunter of St. John’s, Hoxton, plans to go to the Associated British Foods Annual General Meeting on December 5th in London, dressed as the Ghost of Christmas Present, and ask a question about fair pay. Reverend Hunter’s share certificate is held by Responsible Investment Charity ShareAction, which is securing his attendance at the meeting as a proxy.
ABF’s AGM is set for 11 a.m. at Congress Centre, 28 Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3LS on Friday 5 December 2014, with the campaigners set to be outside the building from 10 a.m.
ABF owns retailer Primark, one of the targets of the campaign, and Reverend Hunter and his supporters will hand out fliers to shareholders as they arrive at the meeting, with information about why paying a Living Wage makes financial sense for businesses, as well as being the right thing to do.
Reverend Hunter, Citizens UK campaigner for the Living Wage says:
“Every week I speak to members of my congregation who are struggling to make ends meet. Many of these hard working people are managing two, even three jobs, as well as trying to raise a family. The Living Wage rewards people with a fair day’s pay for a hard day’s work, and is calculated using a social consensus on what people need to live, not simply exist hand to mouth.
“Christmas is about care, compassion and giving. I hope that by asking Primark to pay their staff a Living Wage the retailer will realise the benefits they can gain both reputationally, but also the increased loyalty, motivation and productivity their staff will give back to them once they feel they are valued by their employer.
“Paying the Living Wage is the right moral decision to make and a savvy business choice.”
ShareAction, which is backing the campaign along with Citizens UK, the group which developed the Living Wage movement, put out some analysis in November showing that paying a Living Wage makes financial sense for companies, and that the benefits outweigh the modest cost.
18 of Britain’s FTSE 100 companies are now accredited Living Wage employers, including big names such as Barclays, Pearson, and Legal & General. They pay all their employees £9.15 an hour in London and £7.85 outside London—a level set by independent researchers and measured against what it costs for people to afford life’s essentials such as food and housing.
But Britain’s major retailers are lagging behind on the Living Wage. The #StopScrooging campaign is targeting the following household names: Sainsbury’s, Argos, M&S, Debenhams, Sports Direct, Next, Carphone Warehouse, Primark, John Lewis, Tesco, Morrisons, and B&Q.
ShareAction and Citizens UK are asking shoppers to tweet at the retailers telling them why they should pay fair with the hashtag ‘#StopScrooging’ and to download an action pack from their website, www.stopscrooging.org, where the excuses the companies have offered, so far, for not paying fair are rounded up for shoppers to read.
The campaign action pack also includes fake price labels for the dozen retailers which shoppers are also encouraged to print off and place inside the stores to attract more attention to the issue.
ShareAction chief executive Catherine Howarth says:
“Investors have been asking more insistent questions over the last six months about why retailers aren’t paying a Living Wage to their employees. This isn’t just the right thing to do but it makes financial sense for these companies, and it’s time for consumers to join the movement asking them to stop Scrooging.”
Living Wage Foundation, Director, Rhys Moore says:
“Over 1,000 organisations are now accredited Living Wage employers, including 18 FTSE 100 companies, well-known names such as Nestle and Nationwide and scores of smaller, independent businesses.
“Low pay costs the taxpayer money – firms that pay the minimum wage are seeing their workers’ pay topped up through the benefits system. So it’s right that we celebrate those employers who are voluntarily signing up to the higher Living Wage now, saving the taxpayer money in the process. It also makes sense for us to encourage others to follow their lead, and at least investigate the option of paying their staff a wage they can live on, not simply survive.”
ShareAction’s investor briefing on the Living Wage, which shows why investing in companies that pay a Living Wage makes sense, is available here: http://shareaction.org/sites/default/files/uploaded_files/TheCasefortheLivingWage-Nov-2014.pdf
Citizens UK works to develop the capacity and skills of socially and economically disadvantaged communities so that their members are better able to identify and help meet their own needs; improve their neighbourhood; and participate more fully in society. http://www.citizensuk.org/
The UK Living Wage rate (ie outside London) is calculated annually by the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University, with funding from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
The London Living Wage rate is calculated by the GLA’s Living Wage Unit, with cross-party support. It is updated on a yearly basis, calculating a ‘poverty threshold wage’ and adding a 15 percent margin to ensure that the recipients do not fall to the level of poverty wages.
Accredited Living Wage employers – there are now over to 1,000 accredited Living Wage Employers.