A group of investors is planning to tell company chiefs to protect low-paid workers.
The coalition of 15 major investors looks after assets totalling 2.4 trillion pounds. They were brought together by ShareAction, an investment group that specialises in defining the ‘highest standards for responsible investment.’
Legal and General Investment Management, Aviva Investors and AXA Investment Managers have all signed a statement arguing for businesses to grant workers on low salaries pay awards that account for the current rate of inflation.
In a statement released this morning, a spokesperson for The Workers Union said: ‘For many years the business community and the investment sector have indulged in a lot of noble posturing when it comes to workers’ wages. Initiatives have come and gone, but still working people have found themselves at the end of the line when it comes to taking an equitable share of the spoils.
‘However, the convulsions of the COVID and post-COVID era, and the current economic difficulties in Europe and beyond, seem to have created a chink of light in the darkness. Execs are increasingly turning to shares to workers options, while others look to provide additional support during the cost of living crisis.
‘Although much remains to be done to address pay inequalities, the ShareAction coalition seems like a positive, though small, step forward.’
Action on the Real Living Wage
ShareAction announced that it will attend the annual general meetings (AGMs) of big retailers such as Tesco, Next and JD Sports. The coalition of investors wants more companies to offer to pay staff the “real” Living Wage – including workers on third-party contracts. It is also backing improvements to job security by seeking a firm commitment from business to offer guaranteed working hours and fairer contracts.
The real Living Wage is an initiative managed by the Living Wage Foundation. It is the only UK wage rate that uses living costs as a determiner of hourly remuneration. It is voluntarily paid by more than 12,000 businesses in the UK and differs from the Living Wage rates set by the government.
According to government legislation, companies must pay an hourly rate of £10.42 for those workers over the age of 23. Firms signed up to the real Living Wage agree to pay £10.90 outside of London and £11.95 in the capital.
The Head of Good Work at ShareAction, Dan Howard, said: ‘The harshest effects of the cost-of-living crisis are being felt by workers on low wages and those on insecure contracts, who are being forced into difficult choices on how they can meet their families’ everyday needs. With workers currently experiencing the longest pay squeeze in more than 200 years, there is a risk that the current crisis will further widen disparities in income and wealth that create systemic risks for our wider economy and society as a whole.’