Nestlé becomes first big UK manufacturer to back Living Wage for all staff
30 June 2014 -
Food company behind scores of household brands extends pay ethos to contractors, while maintaining Europe-wide support for getting more young people into work
Kit-Kat maker Nestlé has confirmed it will pay the Living Wage to contractors and younger staff, in addition to the 8,000 permanent full-timers who already receive it, as corporate social responsibility takes a more central role at the firm. Covering Nestlé UK and its sister companies – which include Nutrition, Waters and Purina Petcare divisions – the arrangement will be extended to its 800 regular contract workers by December 2017. The Living Wage will also be available to members of its graduate, internship and Fast Start school leaver programmes.
The Living Wage varies across the country, standing at £8.80 per hour in London and an average £7.65 per hour elsewhere. Since 1 October 2013, the National Minimum Wage (NMW) has been £6.31 per hour for adults aged 21 and over, and £5.03 for those aged between 18 and 21. But campaigners have argued that the NMW does not fully satisfy the scale of day-to-day economic challenges that most people face in their efforts to make ends meet.
Becoming the first 100% Living Wage employer was an opportunity Nestlé UK & Ireland could not turn down, according to its chair and CEO Fiona Kendrick. “We are proud to be the first mainstream manufacturer in the UK to become a Living Wage employer and see this as an opportunity to be a positive influence in our sector,” she said. “As a major UK employer, we know that this is the right thing to do. Not only does it benefit our employees but the communities they live and work in.”
Rhys Moore, director of the Living Wage Foundation, believes that the scheme plays a vital role in battling the hardships that staff experience while attempting to cover their most basic costs of living. “The accreditation of Nestlé as a Living Wage employer marks a significant milestone in the campaign to tackle in-work poverty,” Moore said. “Nestlé is the first fast-moving consumer goods company to join the Living Wage movement, bringing the Living Wage to every shelf, shop and home in the UK. We hope that the leadership they have shown will encourage others in this industry to follow suit and improve conditions for those at the lowest end of the pay scale and subcontracted staff.”
He added: “We are aware that Nestlé is going above and beyond the basic requirements of becoming an accredited employer, and is extending their commitment to graduate, internship and school-leaver programmes. This is fantastic news, demonstrating that businesses who can, should do more wherever possible.”
GMB Union general secretary Paul Kenny said: “It just shows what can be achieved when a decent employer works together with progressive unions. More than 2.5 million people who are paid the NMW have to top up their pay with welfare benefits to put a roof over their heads and feed the family. It’s ordinary taxpayers subsidising bad employment practice, and that has to stop.”
Nestlé is clearly working on a range of enhancements to its social stance, as demonstrated by its parallel Alliance for YOUth programme. The scheme is a Europe-wide employment initiative aimed at tackling youth unemployment by getting large companies to sign up to the European Commission’s European Alliance for Apprenticeships. As part of the programme, Nestle has pledged to create a number of joint initiatives to give young people meaningful work experience. It also working with local communities to help young people get “Ready for Work” by offering advice on CV preparation and how to handle interviews.
Nestlé Europe CEO Laurent Freixe said: “With more than 150 companies from all over Europe joining, Nestlé’s Alliance for YOUth is the first pan-European, business-driven movement pledging to improve the chances for our young people in a challenging job market.
Commission President Barroso said “I commend this initiative in supporting the European Commission’s “European Alliance for Apprenticeships” by substantially increasing the efforts on promoting vocational training and offering apprenticeships/traineeships across Europe.”
Image of Nestlé logo courtesy of abimages / Shutterstock
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