Asda has caused outrage among its warehouse workers after a leaked document revealed it was considering implementing cost-saving measures at the expense of health and safety regulations.
The ‘Warehouse Chip Away Strategy 2005’ document, seen by The Grocer, specifies actions to be taken at its Lutterworth distribution centre in Leicestershire, including encouraging supervisors to “take credence out of breaks” by ending rest times early or not taking all the breaks that hourly-paid staff get in an effort to “lead by example”.
It also suggests removing sick pay for the first three days of absence as well as implementing “single man loading”, despite acknowledging in its own risk assessment that two men are required. Further, it describes removing the right for staff to take individual grievances to arbitration service Acas and managing the site without the involvement of the GMB.
The report also outlines risks involved with pushing through these actions, including a “negative sales pitch from the GMB”, the potential to “hit a militant core” and hitting morale.
GMB senior organiser Duncan Edwards said it was impossible for Asda to deny the contents of its own document. “Asda is consciously weighing up what it can get away with. This is the reality of working for Wal-Mart.”
An Asda spokeswoman said the document was the result of a brainstorming session by three managers at its Lutterworth site and the suggestions had gone no further. However, Edwards said: “The strategy is clearly not confined to Lutterworth as we’ve had complaints from Asda employees across the country.”
The Office of Fair Trading says its opinion on newspaper and magazine distribution will not be issued in the immediate future because new CEO John Fingleton wants it reviewed. The opinion was expected at the end of last month.

Premier Foods has sold its tea business to Indian company Apeejay International Tea Limited, a subsidiary of Apeejay Surrendra, for £80m. The deal includes Typhoo, London Fruit & Herb, Lift and associated brands. Premier’s own-label contracts and blending and packing facility at Moreton, Wirral, are also included.

Marks and Spencer has recorded a 6.3% increase in food sales in the second quarter to October 1. The retailer revealed that its like-for-like food sales were up 2.7% compared with an increase of 0.7% last quarter.

Plans for a Waitrose store in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, have been thrown out. Wycombe District Council initially voted in favour last October, but Waitrose stirred up opposition by revealing it would entail relocating a funeral parlour and demolishing its chapel of rest. The council has now voted to refuse the development.

Scottish retailers will save millions of pounds from next year after the release of the Scottish Executive’s timetable for business rates cuts. It will provide £100m from April next year to reduce the gap between Scottish and English business rates and a further £180m to close it fully by April 2007.

Asda has launched an internal investigation into why its staff do not shop at its stores. CEO Andy Bond revealed at a meeting that nearly 50,000 of its staff do not shop at Asda.
Rachel Barnes
OFT Opinion delayED
TEA Business sold
M&S food sales up
WAITROSE blocked
RATE cuts for scots
Asda proBEs staff