Salary increases are smoke and mirrors masking the real issue of equal pay

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In the last few months many of the big supermarkets, including Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury’s, have announced pay rises for their staff. CEOs of the supermarkets claim this move recognises the hard work of their staff. However, employment paralegal Janine Page believes that equal pay would be the real recognition that store staff deserve. Here, she discusses how supermarkets are avoiding the real issue of equal pay through offering salary increases. 


Until the pandemic it might have been easy for people to take shop floor workers for granted, but as the need to keep a sense of normality became increasingly difficult and people realised how important it is to keep their cupboards stocked, society became more aware of the hard work these employees do.

Supermarket CEOs claim that recent salary increases reflect all that shop floor workers have done over the last two years. Asda co-owner Mohsin Issa said the company is “proud to be investing in increasing the pay for our hard-working store colleagues”, while Sainsbury’s CEO Simon Roberts said the salary increase shows “how much we value the brilliant job they [shop floor workers] do for customers every day”.


Who’s getting what?

Sainsbury’s basic hourly rate of pay for all store staff has risen from £9.50 to £10 an hour (excluding London), from £9.75 to £10.50 in outer London, and £10.10 to £11.05 for staff in inner London.

From July 1, the hourly pay for 120,000 Asda workers will rise from £9.66 to £10.10. Wages were previously increased from £9.36 to £9.66 an hour in April.

Tesco workers outside of London are currently paid a basic rate of £9.55 an hour. This will increase to £10.10 in the summer, while store workers in London will get a similar increase, bringing their hourly pay up to £10.78.

Neither Morrisons nor Co op have confirmed if any pay rises have, or will be, awarded to staff in 2022.

On the surface a wage increase seems like a good deal. After all, they exceed National Living Wage and National Real Living Wage, but dig a little deeper and all is not as rosy as it seems.


Pay is still not equal 

Increasing pay at a time when many people are feeling the squeeze is good publicity for supermarkets, but what they’re not proudly boasting is that wages still don’t match those of people working in distribution centres, who will still earn up to approximately £3 per hour more. It’s clear supermarkets are continuing to avoid the real issue of equal pay.

Looking at the last two years, it’s hard to understand how the supermarkets can continue to justify this. Colleagues have worked tirelessly to keep the nation fed under immense pressure and in extremely difficult circumstances.

We constantly hear from clients about the additional pressures they have experienced while on the frontline during the pandemic. From working without a break to ensure shelves are restocked as quickly as possible when customers are stockpiling, to experiencing abuse when they attempt to enforce social distancing measures.

If, as they say, the supermarkets truly value the work shop floor workers do for customers every day, then it’s time they stops making empty gestures and commit to paying store staff what they deserve, and at least the same as distribution centre staff.


Have you worked in a supermarket store? You could be eligible to join the Equal Pay Now claim. Find out more here.

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