Supermarket chain Morrisons has promised to pay staff a minimum of £10 an hour in a new pay deal that starts in April.
This makes the company the first UK supermarket to break the £10 an hour threshold, a minimum that has been pledged by the Labour party and unions for some time.
The increase will affect approximately 96,000 colleagues, for whom current minimum hourly pay is £9.20 an hour.
Morrisons’ announcement comes as social justice charity Citizens UK today published research showing that 45% of supermarket workers now earn below the real living wage (as recommended by the Living Wage Foundation) of £10.85 an hour in London and £9.50 across the rest of the UK.
The charity’s research, a snapshot of earnings in April 2020, also showed that supermarkets were among the worst employers in terms of pay ratio between top earners and median-earning employees.
Tesco is the third highest with a pay ratio of 305:1 for CEO/median employees, and a 355:1 ratio with those in the lower quartile of pay. One in three Sainsbury’s staff struggles to pay their bills and for food, the charity found.
Citizens UK also found that supermarket workers are given fewer hours than they request, working an average of 28 hours per week.
Commenting on the report, shadow business secretary Ed Miliband said that “every worker should be paid a fair wage they can live on. It’s just wrong that so many of our key workers, including in sectors like supermarkets and care, are being asked to survive on low pay.
“Labour strongly supports a real living wage of at least £10 an hour. As we rebuild our country and economy after coronavirus, we cannot just go back to business as usual. The government must take action to move our country to a real living wage.”
The national living wage set by the government will increase in April from £8.72 to £8.91.
Joanne McGuinness, Usdaw national officer, said the £10 an hour basic rate negotiated by Morrisons was a “big step forward” for employees and that she hoped it would be agreed by union members.
“They provide the essential service of keeping the nation fed and deserve our support, respect and appreciation. Most of all they deserve decent pay and this offer is a welcome boost,” she added.