A petition calling on the John Lewis Partnership to pay disgruntled staff the Real Living Wage has amassed almost 30,000 signatures.
According the the petition a fifth of workers are paid under the real living wage, priced at £9.50 per hour across the UK and £10.85 in London despite the company being employee owned.
The petition, hosted on the Organise network, says that many staff are being paid “poverty wages” which “feels especially insulting” given the additional responsibility taken on by workers during the pandemic.
The John Lewis Partnership says it “cannot afford” to pay all of its 80,000 partners the real living wage. The company has taken stringent measures to reduce operating costs since the start of the pandemic, during which more than half of its staff were furloughed with thousands of jobs cut.
Despite efforts to curb spending, in the first half of 2021 the company reported a pre-tax loss of £635m with trading operating profit down 9.3 per cent compared to pre-pandemic levels. John Lewis has committed to raising pay to at least the real living wage when annual profit surpasses £200m.
As part of plans to turn the company’s fortunes around John Lewis will repurpose its properties to build 10,000 new homes in the next few years.
News of the petition comes after John Lewis was named and shamed by the government for paying employees under the minimum wage.
A spokesperson for John Lewis, which was identified as having failed to recompense 19,000 staff members close to £1million, said the company was “surprised and disappointed” to be listed as the result of “a technical breach that happened four years ago” and “has been fixed.”
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