BLAENAU Gwent MP Nick Smith has called on Asda to put a halt to plans which would leave thousands of staff members worse off financially.
Asda, which has a large supermarket in Mr Smith’s constituency, has launched a consultation on plans which would see all hourly paid retail staff moved to a new contract.
The contract increases the basic hourly rate from £8.21 to £9 an hour, however it would also end paid breaks and reduce night shift hours as well as requiring staff to work more flexibly potentially leading to irregular and unpredictable shift patterns particularly around bank holidays, Christmas and New Year.
The GMB Union has criticised the plans, which Asda has conceded will leave around 5% of staff members facing a pay cut of around £500 a year.
Mr Smith MP has signed and supported a letter written by Labour MP for Mitcham and Morden Siobhain McDonagh which calls on Asda Chief Executive Roger Burnley to answer concerns over the proposals.
Nick Smith MP said: “I obviously welcome any pay rise for supermarket workers but this should not result in any of Asda’s hardworking staff members being out of pocket.
“It is also not right that some staff members are potentially facing a choice of leaving their job or signing a contract which leaves them earning less.
“The GMB says that these contracts already exist on a voluntary basis, and nearly 60% of Asda employees opted not to take them up. It does not sit well with me that Asda management is now considering imposing this contract on all staff members.
“I support the union’s call for Asda to stop this approach.”
Full copy of letter signed and supported by Nick Smith MP below:
Dear Mr Burnley,
Taking home a fair wage should be the very least that your longstanding and hardworking employees deserve. That’s why we are so appalled that unscrupulous contract changes at ASDA will result in 3,000 of your staff facing a pay cut under the guise of an increase in their basic pay.
We understand that ASDA are proposing to move all hourly-paid retail staff to a new contract. We warmly welcome the pay rise that some of your employees will receive under these proposed changes. However, we are utterly appalled that this is to the detriment of 3,000 of your staff who are set to see their wages slashed. We are completely dismayed that a company of your reputation would use an increase in basic pay as a smokescreen to cut the pay of so many of your most longstanding staff. Under the proposed changes, all employees will lose their paid breaks and the night shift will be shortened from 22:00 – 06:00 to the hours of 00:00 – 05:00. Why do the hours either side of this window not constitute the night shift, given that they fall during the night? Furthermore, the proposed changes would move employees to more flexible contracts whereby their shift patterns will become irregular and unpredictable. Though some staff will welcome this more flexible approach to working, a structured shift pattern is simply nonnegotiable for those staff reliant on care or childcare.
Staff who have given decades of loyalty to your organisation describe the anger, sadness and frustration at how they are being treated with several indicating that they could lose thousands of pounds per year. If they do not sign the new contracts, then they will be forced to resign.
Any pay rise should be welcomed, but it must not be used to disguise a significant pay cut for 3,000 of your most longstanding staff. We encourage you to ensure that no ASDA employee receives a pay cut under these proposals and we hope that that you show to them a fraction of the loyalty that they have shown to you.
We hope that ASDA engages seriously and cooperatively in negotiations with the GMB throughout any upcoming consultation process and we look forward to hearing what action you have taken.