AGM revolt hits Tesco

2 July 2007 - 3:35pm
Press release

Britain's largest retailer Tesco suffered a historic rebellion today when one in five shareholders refused to endorse its action over workers paid 5p an hour to make its clothes in Bangladesh.

At Tesco's annual meeting in London, nearly one in ten shareholders (9.3 per cent) voted for a resolution demanding supplier factories undergo independent auditing to ensure decent pay and conditions for employees.

Support came from shareholders representing over 400 million shares, including the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, an independent organisation which holds close to a million shares.

And an even bigger proportion, 10.1 per cent, withheld their backing. PIRC, the independent advisory body to institutional investors, defied Tesco's instructions by advising shareholders to abstain from voting.

The resolution - the first from an individual shareholder to be voted on at a Tesco AGM - was proposed by Ben Birnberg, company secretary for the anti-poverty charity War on Want.

Backing for the resolution also came from Bangladesh researcher Khorshed Alam, who interviewed employees who produce Tesco clothes in the country's capital Dhaka.

The interviews were conducted for War on Want's report Fashion Victims, which showed employees were regularly working 80 hours a week for just 5p an hour in potential deathtrap factories.

Mr Birnberg said: "The unprecedented level of shareholders who voted for the resolution or withheld backing for Tesco sends a clear signal that people want decent pay and conditions for workers in the supply chain.

Shareholders voted through a package of up to £11.5m in pay and shares for Tesco chief executive Sir Terry Leahy."

Now the company must share out some of its record £2.6 billion profits to the workers."




Paul Collins, War on Want media officer (+44) (0)20 7549 0584 or (+44) (0)7983 550728


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The right to be paid a living wage is a basic entitlement of all working people the world over, whether they work in the public or private sectors, in the global South or North.

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