Bristol Rovers supporters will have another reason to hate Sainsbury’s today following the statement by their former boss Justin King that George Osborne’s decision to raise the national minimum wage and rebrand it as the national living wage (which it isn’t) is “ludicrous” and will “destroy” jobs. This is the same Justin King who “earned” an annual salary of £900,000 with a bonus of between £3m and £6m.
You do wonder what world people like King live in. Most of his staff, slaving away on deli counters and tills, earn way under £7 an hour which, by my calculation, is slightly less than he is coining it, and for what? I am assuming his type of genius is put to use deciding where to put pork scratchings in the store, or by ensuring the one thing you really want is “out of stock”. Or just the age old trick of charging more than Asda for the same products?
It gets even better, though, when King says the increase in the minimum wage “is not economically justified”. Well, perhaps it isn’t, Mr King, but presumably you are someone who values anything in life by how much it costs. How very Thatcherite of you. Don’t worry that so many people you employ struggle to put bread on the table. Unless it’s “economically justified”, of course. What you are really saying is you would rather pay these poor people even less, as little as you can possibly get away with.
I know and understand the argument that some firms, especially smaller ones, struggle to pay a living wage to their employees, some because they simply can’t afford it. That’s where the government can help by offering companies tax breaks. But I argue that from a moral standpoint, it is totally wrong that people can be treated little differently from when they were serfs to their masters. There is one rule for the likes of King, who can earn pretty well whatever they want and quite another for ordinary hard working people. We simply should not accept that some people are entitled to be rich and others are entitled to be poor. We all offer different things to society. The person on £6.80 an hour on the Sainsbury’s salad bar is more important and relevant to me than some millionaire suit in his luxury offices, that’s for sure.
King just shows again to me what a horrible company Sainsbury’s is. As they have shown with Bristol Rovers, their word means nothing and as they, through King, have shown, they treat their staff with equal contempt.