19 Jun Why don’t Marks & Spencers pay staff a Living Wage?
Marks & Spencer is supposed to be a company with solid values threaded through all that they do, which include paying your workers fairly. Just look at this group of amazing celebrities photographed by Annie Lebowitz all wearing M&S – they know how to reach out to every woman.
We’re sending these influential celebrities, board and shareholders carefully hand-stitched handkerchiefs to encourage the company not to ‘blow’ their chance to support life-changing decisions.
Is it your M&S?
The Craftivist Collective is joining forces with ShareAction’s AGM Army this summer to press UK retailers to pay a Living Wage. The campaigners are coordinating a series of “stitch-ins” at branches of Marks & Spencers across the UK, for crafters to sew hand-made messages onto M&S handkerchiefs, to be delivered to the board, celebrity endorsers, and major shareholders of the British retail giant at its annual general meeting at Wembley Stadium on July 7th.
“This craftivist initiative at the M&S AGM is nothing to ‘sniff at’. Sarah and her amazing stitchers are devoting hours to creating gifts the M&S board we hope will treasure and remember forever. People adore M&S but they want to see the company step up and become a Living Wage employer. The many big shareholders backing this call know it makes business sense as well as being the right thing to do.” Catherine Howarth, Chief Executive of ShareAction
An online poll shows 17 percent of British shoppers would shop more often at Marks & Spencers if it paid staff a Living Wage. (Source: Opinium survey, 12th-16th June 2015, based on 2002 online interviews across the UK).
How Can You Help and Support this Creative Campaign?
The first “stitch-in” will take place on June 22 in London at 6:30 pm outside the Marks & Spencers on Liverpool Road, N1 0PR. Another “stitch-in” is scheduled for June 23rd at 6.30pm in Cardiff, another in Brighton on June 29th, and another in Brentwood (tbc). There will also be stitch-ins in Glasgow, Manchester, Lincoln, Edinburgh, and Birmingham amongst others. Stitch ins need to take place before July 7th.
This is a positive campaign to encourage M&S to do the right thing, it is not bullying or demonising them. We need them to listen and want to engage with us not close off and feel attacked. We will be at their AGM so we want them to know we are friendly, loving and want to help. Please join us by tweeting a positive message to @marksandspencers , encouraging them to lead the way in retail #AStitchInTime for a #LivingWage
How can a group of people stitching on M&S hankies help?
The idea of the “stitch-ins” is to show M&S that in addition to major shareholders with billions of pounds under management, its core customer base is also fully engaged and supportive on the issue of the Living Wage, and that they expect the company to show leadership on this basic fairness issue.
The stitch-ins outside will look like a picnic with people stitching, having jam sandwiches & tea. They are non violent, non threatening but there to intrigue passers-by & M&S customers who might ask what we are doing, and show M&S Staff that we value and love them and want to support them by campaigning for them to receive a Living Wage. This is a positive campaign to encourage M&S to do the right thing, it is not bullying or demonising them. We need them to listen and want to engage with us. Please do join this peaceful, pretty & protest where you can
Each unique hand-stitched hanky encourages board directors of M&S to commit to paying the Living Wage of £9.15 in London and £7.85 across the UK to all staff. This is a part of ShareAction’s campaign in partnership with Citizens UK to achieve the Living Wage across the FTSE 100 through shareholder activism. Nearly a quarter of FTSE 100 companies have now accredited with the Living Wage Foundation, but no high street retailer has yet signed up. We want M&S to lead the way.
ShareAction has organised AGM questions on the Living Wage at more than 20 company AGMs so far this year. ShareAction is simultaneously mobilising an Investor Collaborative for the Living Wage made up of institutional shareholders with billions of pounds in British companies, including asset managers, pension funds, charity and faith investors. These large shareholders have written in 2015 to all of the FTSE 100, including M&S, in support of the Living Wage.
Crafters will be giving M&S handkerchiefs with personalised positive messages stitched into them to all 14 board members of M&S, as well as to its largest shareholders, and to the 2014 celebrities who feature in the company’s ad campaign that we have listed below along with their Twitter handles.
Annie Lennox – @annielennox
Emma Thompson – (she doesn’t do Twitter!)
Alex Wek – @
Rita Ora –
Dowreen Lawrence – @ (we hope she will love this campaign as a Labour Life Peer)
Lulu Kennedy – @
Rachel Khoo –
Please join us by tweeting a positive message to @marksandspencers , encouraging them to lead the way in retail #AStitchInTime for a #LivingWage
They will also be handing out 250 special handkerchief craft kits with a Living Wage message printed on them to shareholders at the company’s Annual General Meeting, so that shareholders can stitch too, to encourage themselves to support the Living Wage. These kits include an ethical hanky, needle and thread, instructions, and a briefing note on investment risk.
M&S Chief Executive Marc Bolland is paid £2.1million a year. Last year, his company refused to consider a Living Wage at its Annual General Meeting. Later, at a meeting with campaigners, the company again refused to consider paying the Living Wage.
Sarah Corbett, founder of the Craftivist Collective, said: “Marks & Spencer is supposed to be a company with solid values threaded through all that they do, which include paying your workers fairly. We’re sending the board and shareholders these carefully hand-stitched handkerchiefs to encourage the company not to ‘blow’ their chance to support life-changing decisions.”