Ken Murphy

Shareholders are calling on Tesco to justify the £10m wage package of CEO Ken Murphy.

The NGO ShareAction will ask at Tesco’s AGM today how the company can afford Murphy’s pay package, while contract cleaners and security staff who they said keep Tesco stores safe and clean are paid less than the real living wage.

Murphy’s pay more than doubled last year, despite his fixed pay falling from £1.7m to £1.6m, with a bonus of £3.38m and shares worth £9.91m.

Meanwhile Tesco profits skyrocketed from £882m to £2.29bn over the past year.

ShareAction, which is funded by the likes of Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation, Sunrise Project, The Health Foundation and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, said Murphy’s pay was 430 times as much as the average Tesco employee.

ShareAction is urging Tesco, alongside other major supermarkets in the UK, to accredit as a living wage employer, which would mean all staff including third-party contractors would be guaranteed the real living wage.

In March, Tesco reached an agreement with trade union Usdaw that saw hourly pay rates for colleagues in stores rise from £11.02 to £12.02, above the living wage.

Read more: How much are the top supermarket bosses paid?

ShareAction said it was calling on Tesco and other shareholders in the supermarket, who themselves pay the living wage, to use their voices to encourage the company to join them as living wage employers.

It said there was growing concern among the investment community about the systemic harm low pay poses to the broader economy.

“In a world where Tesco are making a £2.3bn profit a year, paying those who keep the stores safe and clean the real living wage shouldn’t have to be asked for – it should be automatic,” said Dan Howard, head of good work at ShareAction.

“Unfortunately, Tesco are dragging their feet on taking the right steps to pay its third-party contracted staff the living wage.

“Failing to recognise the financial hardship many of those who work for Tesco have faced during the cost of living crisis will damage Tesco’s reputation with both shareholders and customers.”