A leading London Liberal Democrat has called on supermarkets to pay all their employees in the capital at least the London Living Wage in recognition of their contribution to maintaining the city’s food supply chain during the coronavirus crisis.
Siobhan Benita, who is her party’s candidate to be London Mayor, said that “many supermarket workers are not being paid what they deserve, despite putting themselves at risk of catching the virus every day so that Londoners can get their essential food and supplies”.
Timed to coincide with the start of a new financial year, Benita’s request underlines that supermarkets are among “few businesses experiencing increased demand at this time” but that the increase in the statutory national minimum living wage – as distinct from the voluntary “real” living wage calculated for London – is insufficient to cover the high cost of living in the capital.
The new legal minimum pay rate is £8.72 per hour, and increase from £8.21, while the current London Living Wage (LLW), set by the Living Wage Foundation in November and backed by the current Mayor, Sadiq Khan, is a substantially higher £10.75 per hour. Benita has launched a petition urging “all major supermarkets in London” to adopt the LLW.
City Hall says there are now more than 1,750 accredited London Living Wage businesses and organisations, between them employing roughly 60,000 people. London City Airport and Crystal Palace Football Club are recent high-profile subscribers to the scheme. However, nearly one job in five in the capital pays a rate lower than the LLW.
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