Foyles has defended the wages of its staff after an online petition called on the company to pay booksellers the Living Wage.
The petition at Change.org was set up yesterday (11th December) by Lindsay Woods, who is campaigning for the six-store company to pay all its workers “at least the London Living Wage”, set at £9.15 an hour.
The Living Wage Foundation campaigns for workers to be paid a wage according to the cost of living in the UK, and is calculated independently and updated annually. In the UK, the Living Wage has been calculated at £7.85 an hour, rising to £9.15 an hour in London. The national minimum wage, by comparison, is currently set at £6.50 an hour.
In the petition, Woods said that some employees at Foyles London-based bookshops earn as little as £15,567 a year, which she alleges works out at an hourly rate of £7.47, although this is unconfirmed. Woods added: "By comparison, the London Living Wage, which has been calculated to reflect the actual cost of living in the capital, is currently £9.15 an hour. Workers who earn less than this have an income that means living in poverty.”
She added: “We are asking Foyles to commit to paying every employee at least the Living Wage. This iconic bookshop is part of London's scenery, history and economy. Its workers should be able to live in London without poverty.”
The petition had gained 255 supporters at the time of writing this article.
Foyles responded by saying it salaries were on a par with other companies in the retail sector.
“We have a long-standing commitment to staff development and promoting from within, and as a result many of the most senior positions in the company have been filled by people who have started their career at Foyles on the shopfloor,” a spokesman said. “Incentives generally take the form of monthly and annual staff awards for good customer service and dedication.”
It said that for the last two years, the bookseller had paid a company-wide bonus to staff who had been continuously employed for over six months.
“Staff benefits include a cycle-to-work scheme, access to a number of discounts through provider, Fair Care, and an in-store discount on products and in our cafes,” Foyles said.
The Bookseller has previously reported concerns that booksellers’ pay does not always reflect the expertise required for the role, with many paid the minimum wage or just above.
Last year, Suzanne Collier of bookcareers.com, said: “Booksellers are getting paid even worse than publishers because their salaries are compared to general retailers, so they are getting paid a little over minimum wage. Booksellers aren’t really rewarded in terms of pay for the extra knowledge and expertise required for being a bookseller in comparison to other retail jobs. The attitude has generally been that they should be lucky they work in a nice environment for the retail industry.”
However at the time Meryl Halls, head of membership services for the Booksellers Assocations, said: “Booksellers would like nothing more than to pay staff above-average salaries, but it’s a low-margin business, and we know from our IBF Fitness Programme that bookshop owners are very often sharing the pain and taking relatively little out of the business for their salaries.”
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