Bishop Malcolm MacMahon
The Bishop of Brentwood, Most Rev Thomas MacMahon, has written a letter to the management of John Lewis department store, protesting over the fact that they are paying their cleaning staff minimum wages, rather than the 'living wage'. In a letter today, the Bishop writes:
'Given the reputation of John Lewis as a fair employer and an ethical company, I was appalled to hear that its 3000 cleaners are excluded from the benefits of other staff and are paid the minimum rather than the living wage. The present situation is hardly in keeping with the spirit of John Spedan Lewis’s expectations when he gave the company in trust to its staff in perpetuity. His constitution says the partnership's ultimate purpose is "the happiness of its members", which in 1929 included its cleaners.
I fully endorse London Citizens’ Living Wage campaign for the low paid and for the John Lewis cleaners in particular. They should be welcomed back into the partnership with the same holiday, sick pay, pensions and staff discount as the other employees.
As Bishop of Brentwood, the five East London boroughs come under my aegis, and I have been a supporter of the Living Wage campaign for many years. At the Mass held on its 10th anniversary last year, I said in my sermon: while much progress has been made, it still remains a scandal and deeply unjust when ordinary workers and especially migrant workers are exploited, taken advantage of and paid less than a living wage. It affronts their dignity, their self-worth and that of their families.
I hope that the John Lewis board will decide to rectify the situation, especially since times are so tough for those on low wages working in London at the present time. It would set a shining example to those businesses that focus only on profit and cement John Lewis’ s reputation amongst the people of the UK.
No one from John Lewis was available for comment at time of going to press.