Sainsbury’s has said it needs to be able to make all business investment decisions independently, following the failure of a living wage resolution bought by several investors.

Sainsbury's Edinburgh

A resolution to always pay all of its employees the real living wage was defeated at the Sainsbury’s AGM

At the grocer’s annual general meeting this afternoon, a resolution bought by a coalition of 10 investors and coordinated by ShareAction calling on Sainsbury’s to commit to extending the living wage to third party contractors was defeated. 

The resolution received just 16.69% of votes – well below the 75% required to pass a resolution. 

Sainsbury’s was the first major retailer to agree to pay the real living wage to all of its employees from May this year, but this does not extend to third-party contracted employees, such as security guards and cleaning staff.

Sainsbury’s chair Martin Scicluna hailed the defeat of the resolution, saying it allowed the grocery giant the ability to make its own investment decisions.

“We are proud to have led the way on colleague pay in our industry for the past five years and to pay our colleagues the living wage regardless of where they work in the country,” said Scicluna.

“We would like to thank our shareholders for their overwhelming votes of support and confidence in how Simon [Roberts] and his team are running the business. We believe very strongly in paying people well for the excellent job they do for our customers every single day. We also believe that we need to make all business investment decisions independently and that these decisions should not be outsourced to a third party.”

The 20 other resolutions proposed at the AGM all passed, including a resolution to approve the annual report on remuneration. The resolution will see chief executive Simon Roberts paid £3.8m this year including his salary, bonuses and incentives.

Roberts’ tenure was supported by investors who backed his re-election as a director with 99.9% of votes.

Sainsbury’s published its financial results for the first quarter this week, reporting a 4.5% drop in sales excluding fuel but retaining its full-year profit guidance.

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