Thousands of ASDA employees could lose jobs in contract switch, union warns

‘The onus is now on them is save people’s jobs with a better deal’, GMB official says

Vincent Wood
Tuesday 22 October 2019 15:29 BST
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Staff who do not sign the new contracts have been told they will be asked to leave the company
Staff who do not sign the new contracts have been told they will be asked to leave the company

Union officials have warned 12,000 ASDA employees could lose their jobs next week if they refuse a change to their contracts that strips them of paid breaks and perks for working during the holidays.

The new contract drafted by the firm, which is owned by US retail giant Walmart, offers a pay rise to £9 per hour – but removes paid lunch breaks, while also cutting premium pay on bank holidays and reduces the number of night shift hours where workers can receive higher rates of pay.

The contracts, which also say staff must accept shifts that vary between 8am and 10pm and department changes at the supermarket’s discretion, must be signed by ASDA’s more than 100,000 hourly paid staff on 2 November.

If not, staff will be forced to leave the firm.

Gary Carter of union GMB, which represents ASDA staff, said: “If Asda is serious about not wanting to sack thousands its employees on the run-up to Christmas, they need to withdraw the dismissal notices and sit down with GMB to resolve this dispute.

"Asda has served notice on up to 12,000 of its loyal employees – that cannot be right.

“The onus is now on them is save people’s jobs with a better deal that their employees can sign up to.”

In August, the contract was described as “shameful exploitation” by Jeremy Corbyn, who said the firm should “listen to the hardworking staff who make the business a success”.

In September, the firm announced an increase in profits of 9.2 per cent on the previous year, along with a total operating profit of £803m.

An Asda spokesperson said: “Whilst we respect the right of the GMB to express its views, the comments around Asda colleagues being sacked due to commitments outside work are untrue. This change represents an investment of over £80m and an increase in real pay for over 100,000 of our hourly paid colleagues.

“Throughout the consultation process on these changes we have taken colleague concerns and feedback from colleague representatives – including the GMB – on board and have been clear that we understand our colleagues have responsibilities outside of work and we will always help them balance these with their work life.

“We have been clear that we don’t want any of our colleagues to leave us and whilst the vast majority of colleagues have chosen to sign the new contract, we continue to have conversations with those who have chosen not to, to try and understand their concerns.

“It is vital that we make sure we are prepared to adapt to the demands of our market. Change is never easy, but we are determined that Asda remains a sustainable business for its customers and colleagues – now and in the future.”

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