City campaigners get behind living wage campaign with stitch-in outside Marks and Spencer

Living Wage supporters staged a 'stitch-in' outside Marks and Spencer in Central Milton Keynes. PNL-150707-104334001
Living Wage supporters staged a 'stitch-in' outside Marks and Spencer in Central Milton Keynes. PNL-150707-104334001

Campaigners who have been pushing UK retailers to pay all workers a ‘living wage’ staged a quiet protest outside Marks and Spencer in central Milton Keynes.

Ten women had a tea party and staged a ‘stitch-in’, sewing messages onto Marks and Spencer handkerchiefs calling for staff at the chain to be paid the ‘living wage’. They will be delivered to managers at M&S in central Milton Keynes on July 21.

Living Wage supporters staged a 'stitch-in' outside Marks and Spencer in Central Milton Keynes. PNL-150707-104323001

Living Wage supporters staged a 'stitch-in' outside Marks and Spencer in Central Milton Keynes. PNL-150707-104323001

The national campaign has seen stitch-ins held outside M&S stores across the country including Islington, Cardiff and Brighton. Handkerchiefs from those stitch-ins were due to be delivered to the board, celebrity endorsers, and major shareholders of the British retail firm at its annual general meeting at Wembley Stadium yesterday, Tuesday.

The action in MK was co-ordinated by Citizens:mk with the Craftivist Collective and ShareAction’s AGM Army.

The ‘living wage’ is based on the amount an individual needs to earn to cover basic living costs. It currently stands at £7.85 in the UK and £9.15 in London.

Speaking about the stitch-in, Sheila Bacon of MK Quaker Meeting said: “It was fun. We attracted the attention of the M&S managers, who were interested to see what we were doing, and we spoke candidly with them about our disappointment in their pay policy.”

“This wasn’t a normal campaign action,” said Jacqueline Eustace of St Augustine’s Catholic Church. “It was about getting our message across in a gentle way.”

Debbie Wilson, leader of Citizens:mk’s Living Wage campaign, said: “I am a Marks & Spencer customer and have many friends who have been and are employees. Marks & Spencer is an important business in MK, serving many local MK customers and employing scores of MK workers. It’s high time they were all paid a decent wage.”

According to an Opinium online poll of more than 2,000 people, 17 per cent of British shoppers would shop more often at Marks & Spencer if it paid staff a 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.”

For more about the living wage, visit www.livingwage.org.uk. For more about the campaign, visit craftivist-collective.com/