Former Morrisons executive and Labour Party adviser Norman Pickavance is heading up a task force to tackle pay rates and productivity in retail.  

Pickavance, who was HR and communications director at Morrisons for five years until 2012, will chair the task force, which has been established by leftwing think tank the Fabian Society. 

The group, which was launched at an event in Parliament today, will gather evidence from retailers, workers and experts on productivity in business. 

A report on its findings is due to be published by September. 

The launch comes as retailers gear up for the introduction of George Osborne’s so-called living wage in April. The move will mean a significant hike in wage bills for the majority of retailers.

Other members of the task force include Richer Sounds IT and stock control director Julie Abraham and Usdaw general secretary John Hannett.

“The UK is currently struggling to catch up with other countries on productivity, and some sectors have become characterised by low waged, low skilled jobs,” said Pickavance, who advised Ed Miliband during last year’s General Election campaign.

However, he said some “innovative” employers are changing the way they operate to ensure staff are “better engaged, fairly rewarded and more productive”. 

Pickavance added: “The retail industry is the UK’s biggest people industry, and we intend to find the best examples of innovative business practice that works for the employer and employee alike.

“We will also be clear about what the Government needs to do to support responsible businesses who want to boost pay and productivity.”