Working For A Living (Not!) In Grocery Industry

May 18, 2004
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Supermarket employees in the UK are paid substantially less than the average worker, according to research from the GMB union.

In fact, the average supermarket worker would need to put in 94 hours a week to keep pace with the national number.

Phil Davies, GMB national secretary for the food and leisure section, told Personnel Today, “In an industry that is thriving due to the public’s growing dependence on supermarkets for their daily needs, the workers deserve a living wage.”

The study found variations in wages paid based on employer and geographical region. Employees at Morrisons, for example, would need to put in more than 100 hours to make the national average.

Moderator’s Comment: Are supermarkets here in the U.S. and elsewhere paying enough for their workers to live on?
What impact is the perception of low wages having on the number and quality of employees being recruited by the industry?

It is our guesstimate that a single full-time adult worker in our part of the country (metro New York City) would need to make $35,000 a year to pretty
much pay the bills.

With starting wages in many stores closer to $20,000 a year, it isn’t hard to figure out why so many retail employees are grumpy. They know when they’re
done with work, they’ve got another low-paying job to get to or they will have to screen their calls at home to avoid those looking for money (landlords, phone company, bank,

Now, imagine if more than one person needs to be supported on that income. We couldn’t do it.
George Anderson – Moderator

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