Black Friday for Asda: staff plan redundancy protests

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Asda managers who are facing the possibility of losing their jobs as part of the retailer’s ongoing staff restructure, are being encouraged to don black next Friday in protest over redundancy pay.

The protest, which has been dubbed ‘Black Friday’ in a nod to the mega discount shopping day Asda has embraced in recent years, has “support among managers across the country”, according to one Asda department manager.

He set up an online petition this week, calling on the 4,100 managers whose roles are currently in consultation to wear black in a protest for “equal redundancy pay”. The petition currently has 236 signatures.

“The payout package being offered simply isn’t fair,” he claimed. “Asda managers are being offered one month’s pay for every five years, while the managers made redundant at head office recently were given one month’s pay for every year’s service.”

He claimed managers were prepared to take part despite the risk of disciplinary action.

Asda is set to enter the third and final interview stage with the 4,100 department managers whose roles have been put into consultation. Next week, the managers will be told, following the completion of a scoring system, whether they will be offered new positions or made redundant.

The retailer plans to ditch existing department manager roles from some stores and create section leader posts, as well as new deputy manager, trading manager and section manager roles. The move, it said, would put more staff on the shop floor and create up to 5,000 roles - a net benefit of 900 new jobs; though the new positions will be lower paid.

If staff were to go ahead with the protest, it would be highly embarrassing for Asda CEO Andy Clarke, who insisted last month that the majority of staff “were behind the restructure”.

“We’re aware of some discussion online regarding the idea of colleagues wearing black in stores,” said an Asda spokesman, who wouldn’t comment on the redundancy packages. “We know this is a tough time for colleagues in stores and we’ve been working really hard to provide channels that give them the opportunity to voice concerns and raise questions, so we’re disappointed people feel they need to voice their concerns this way. This is a consultation period and there are no foregone conclusions.”

Another department manager, meanwhile, started an online forum this week for colleagues to discuss issues arising from the restructure. The website, which links to the petition, has already had 50,000 views: “No matter what way you look at this, the redundancy offer is poor and not reflective of past performance as a company and industry,” he said.

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