What is the social/environmental problem/issue that this project will address?
More and more workers have to get by on poverty wages in the UK. Millions don’t earn enough to make ends meet.
This means that people are often forced to work multiple jobs in order to meet their immediate needs - like groceries and energy bills. Working multiple jobs means that many people can’t spend time with their families and in their communities. Low pay (below the Living Wage) is bad for people’s health and happiness as well as society at large.
1,500 companies across the UK have already signed up to make sure their staff enjoy a Living Wage. But the retail sector is lagging behind. If a much loved company like M&S takes the lead, the rest will follow. We’ve already seen this happen in the banking sector.
Can you give us some statistics on this problem?
More than 1 in 5 working people in the UK - or 5.28 million - do not earn enough to make ends meet.
28% of those earning below the Living Wage in the UK work in the retail or wholesale sector.
When broken down by job category, there are 760,000 people working as sales & retail assistants below the Living Wage. This is the highest number of people earning below the Living Wage for any field of work.
What is your solution?
Signing up as a Living Wage employer with the Living Wage Foundation ensures that every member of staff - from cleaners to cashiers - earn enough to meet their basic needs. More than 1,500 companies in the UK have signed up so far, but no major high street retailer.
By convincing M&S to adopt the Living Wage, more than 80,000 workers will feel the difference and it will create a major breakthrough in the all-important retail sector. Once a leading company like M&S signs up, their competitors will be under pressure to follow suit to keep up, as we’ve already seen in the banking sector.
How will you deliver this?
We’ll demonstrate the deep concern of M&S customers about the fairness of the Living Wage by organising “craftivists” to stitch personalised handkerchiefs for the board members of M&S, as well as celebrity endorsers of the company and some of its very largest shareholders. This is a powerful but non-threatening way to make the people with the power to make this happen feel how much this means to the public.
The board meets its shareholders on 7th July at the M&S annual shareholder meeting. We’ll be there to give them their beautiful, personalised hankies along with research on the business benefits of the Living Wage.
ShareAction’s “AGM Army” has been buying a few shares in M&S. This means that we have the right to attend the meeting and make sure the board listens to our message on the Living Wage. We’ll ask the board for their response to this issue and give them their gifts.
Along the way, we’ll be reaching out to press and allies to make sure this idea gets the broadest reach possible. Your support is vital for making all this happen.