West End Extra
A YOUNG boy from Westminster demanding wage increases for cleaners unexpectedly came face-to-face with the new chief executive of one of the world’s biggest supermarket groups on Wednesday.
About 40 protesters from campaign group London Citizens, one dressed as an Easter bunny, went to the Tesco Express Covent Garden store to demand that cleaners who work there be paid the current London living wage of £7.85 – but when they were informed that the firm’s chief executive Philip Clarke was in the store for media interviews, they jumped at the chance to confront him.
Seven-year-old Lucas Pinto was one of those who spoke to Mr Clarke, who reported a record jump in profits for Tesco earlier this week.
Andy Hull, a London Citizens and Citizens UK activist, said: “Lucas and I were in the aisle, giving shop staff and customers Easter eggs and talking to them about the living wage campaign.
“Then, who should walk around the corner but Philip Clarke himself. I clocked who he was and Lucas thrust a cream egg in his direction.”
Lucas, who lives in Pimlico, said: “I gave him [Mr Clarke] an Easter egg but he said, ‘I don’t like chocolate, I’m trying to lose weight’. Then I shook his hand and explained about the living wage.”
London Citizens claims cleaners who work in Tesco stores – who are employed through a sub-contracted agency – are paid £5.96, far less than the wage endorsed by Boris Johnson as the minimum people should earn in the capital.
A spokesman for Tesco said: “People at Tesco are paid more than the equivalent at other companies and that’s rewarded by a lot of hard work and loyalty.”
He confirmed the cleaners were employed by a contractor, adding: “We don’t employ the cleaners… It would be quite wrong of us to tell them [our contractor] what they should do.”