The head of the Anglican Church has been branded a hypocrite after he delivered a scathing critique of the tech sector.
On Wednesday, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, slammed the use of zero-hour contracts and labelled tech giant Amazon tax “leeches” for the low level of corporation tax it pays. He also condemned the gig economy for its treatment of workers.
“The gig economy is nothing new; it is simply a new version of a reincarnated evil,” he said on Wednesday (local time).
But it turns out the Church of England also invests in Amazon, which last year was one of the top 20 companies it held shares in, along with Google and BP. Those investments helped the church see 7 percent returns last year.
“It’s what pays for the church to keep going, and if they don’t secure these big increases, which they tend to do year on year, we won’t be able to keep the show on the road and pay for housing and pensions,” says Madeline Davies, features editor at the Church Times.
In a statement, the Church of England said: “We take the view that it is more effective to be in the room with these companies seeking change as an active shareholder than speaking from the side-lines.”
Helen Thomas, BlondeMoney financial analyst, says holding shares gives investors a voice in the boardroom. But with a stake believed to be less than Â£20 million, the church may struggle to make itself heard at the world’s second-most valuable company.
This also isn’t the first embarrassment for the church. It once held a stake in payday lender Wonga via an investment fund and still has shares in Sports Direct, which has been accused of poor treatment of warehouse workers.