Staff at Sainsbury’s have lashed out at ‘greedy’ bosses pushing ahead with a £14.1billion merger with Asda while cutting pay for thousands of employees and overhauling working conditions.
Employees have accused the supermarket of forcing them to ‘sign or resign’ over contracts that will see paid breaks scrapped, additional pay for working Sundays cut and night shift overtime rates slashed.
It is estimated as many as 13,000 staff could be out of pocket under the proposals which will make basic pay equal for its 130,000-strong workforce.
Sainsbury’s staff have accused the supermarket of forcing them to ‘sign or resign’ contracts that will see paid breaks scrapped, additional pay for working Sundays cut and night shift overtime rates slashed
Some older workers are set to lose £3,000 a year under new contracts.
Staff, whose names have been changed to protect their identity, told the Mail they feel threatened by changes to their sick pay which could see them face a disciplinary hearing if they are absent three times.
It comes just a week after Sainsbury’s boss Mike Coupe picked up £1.8million worth of shares, shortly after he was filmed singing We’re In The Money as the Asda deal was announced.
One employee, Julie, 60, who has stacked shelves three nights a week at one of Sainsbury’s stores for 30 years, said she faced taking on more responsibilities for less money.
Staff disputes: By The Numbers
- £3,000 how much some Sainsbury’s staff could stand to lose from contract changes
- 245 stores face the axe as a result of Sainsbury’s and Asda merger
- £2.3m chief executive Mike Coupe’s paypackage last year
- £500million cost savings expected from the merger
‘If we refuse to take on new responsibilities we’re going to be disciplined. We’re going to be disciplined for everything, like we’re children at school,’ she said. ‘I can imagine the bosses taking over the entire High Street eventually. They’re so greedy.
‘If I don’t sign this contract I’ll be forced to resign, but I don’t want to because then that’s just giving in to their blackmail.’
Daniel, 56, who has been working at Sainsbury’s stacking shelves for three decades, claimed he would lose £100 a month and said the atmosphere was ‘chaotic’ as colleagues struggled to understand the upheaval.
Anne, 55, at Sainsbury’s for 12 years, said: ‘Morale is very low at the moment. It’s not surprising. You want to be able to work for a company that you can trust, where you feel valued. And being treated like this is not going to make you feel that way.’
Almost 100 MPs have written to Theresa May urging her to look at the contracts. A letter, initiated by Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh, accused Sainsbury’s of using the increase in basic pay as ‘a smokescreen’.
It said: ‘The pay rise that some of their employees will receive under these proposed changes should be welcomed. But under no condition should this be to the detriment of the estimated 13,000 employees who are set to see their wages slashed.
‘We are completely dismayed a company of Sainsbury’s reputation would use an increase in basic pay as a smokescreen for a whole array of deplorable decisions that will hit hardest their most dedicated, loyal and long-term staff.’
Sainsbury’s said the pay rise, an increase from £8 to £9.20 per hour, will make it ‘the highest-paying retailer in the country’.
Simon Roberts, retail and operations director for Sainsbury’s, said it was investing more than £100million making pay ‘fair and consistent for all colleagues’.
‘This isn’t the case currently and we have many examples of colleagues working side by side in store, doing the same job and being paid differently, depending on when they joined,’ he said.
‘These changes mean that even more people will be better off: 93 per cent of colleagues – well over 120,000 people – will now benefit immediately. For most colleagues that’s a pay rise of over 8 per cent.
‘Everyone is guaranteed to earn at least as much as they do today until March 2020. We will then review pay again.’