LETTER: Staff should be paid ‘living wage’

As a Waitrose customer I am looking forward to the improved shopping experience that will be on offer on the completion of their new development here in Horsham.

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I enjoy shopping at Waitrose as I recognise that it offers good quality food that is competitively priced, high levels of customer service, and it has persuaded me that in many areas it is an ethical trader, something that is very important to me.

In one area though it massively disappoints, that is in the area of staff pay. Some key staff who have a number of year’s loyal service are earning little over the minimum wage and more than £1 less than the ‘ Living Wage’ which is currently set at £7.85 an hour. I guess most people shopping in Waitrose would not find it easy to survive on the ‘Living Wage’ let alone the poverty pay being offered to many Waitrose employees.

In their defence Waitrose no doubt will point to the generous package of benefits offered to staff and the opportunity as a ‘partner’ to receive an annual bonus calculated against business performance. A discretionary bonus though is no use to an employee applying for a mortgage or any other wage based transaction.

Waitrose is clearly a very successful company which Horsham council was keen to see increase its presence within the district. Isn’t it now time, seeing that our council has committed to pay its staff the ‘Living Wage’ that when it encourages businesses to locate and expand within Horsham, it also encourages them to pay nothing less than the ‘Living Wage’.

David Hide

Chair Horsham Labour Party

Clarence Road, Horsham

A spokesman for Waitrose said:

“The vast majority of our Partners earn more than the Living Wage, including Partnership bonus. Although we share the campaign’s objectives of fair pay and earning a wage you can live on, we don’t believe the method of raising the ’pay floor’ well above the National Minimum Wage (NMW) is the only way to achieve that outcome. Within the Partnership, our pay policy is ‘to pay the market rate for good performance and any amount above that can be justified by performance’. “As part of a total reward package, we also provide a final salary pension scheme, leisure and learning subsidies, shopping discounts and an annual profit share bonus.

“This year every Partner received the equivalent of eight weeks’ wages in bonus.

“Our policy starts from a market base. In a competitive market that’s an important foundation and all of our pay ranges start above the NMW. But just as importantly, our pay ranges extend typically much further than those in many of our competitors.

“Beyond the NMW, we believe that the best way to achieve higher pay is to support the skills and career development of our Partners to earn more. For example, employees have access to 5,000 learning courses all funded by business.”