High profile investors back campaign for “living wage”


A group of investors worth £13 billion are calling for the top 100 UK companies to improve salaries and implement a “living wage”.

The body, which is made up of UK and US religious groups and charitable investment groups, held a rally on Monday to push the country’s major organisations into raising the minimum wage for all employees. More than two and a half thousand protesters gathered in Central London at Westminster Central Hall to support the campaign which calls for companies to raise the minimum wage from £5.93 to £7.85 in London and £7.20 for the rest of the UK.

The protest comes as feeling continue to run high over generous bank bonuses. Figures from FairPensions, which are behind the campaign, show that while basic wages soared in the City in Q1 2011, more than 3.5 million workers continue to be paid less than £7 an hour in the UK.

The campaign, which has been running for the last 10 years, is run by a number of groups and trusts, including the Methodist Church, Union, Unite and the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, who collectively hold £13 billion of assets in management. The group have already written to the chief executives of the UK’s top 100 countries to ask them to implement “living wage standards” – something which they claim is necessary for individuals to meet their basic needs.

“People are sickened by the ever-growing wage inequality in Britain’s biggest firms but we haven’t had an effective way to make our voices heard until now. The combination of major investors and members of the public working together to bring the remuneration debate down to the shop floor should be irresistible,” commented Catherine Howarth, chief executive of FairPensions.

FairPensions have already attended shareholder meetings for top organisations such as Barclays and the Royal Bank of Scotland and plan to raise the subject at GSK, Capita and Arriva meetings over the coming weeks.