Asda entered the final round of negotiations with GMB on Friday in a bid to prevent hundreds of workers taking individual court action over enforced contract changes. The supermarket has been in ongoing talks with the union and its members since August, after changing the contracts of 18,000 long-serving staff to bring their hourly wage rates and conditions into line with the majority of shopfloor workers employed after 2001 on 'new world' contracts. Some 7,000 workers initially refused to agree to the changes. Most of these cases have now been resolved, but there are still about 600 unresolved grievance appeals, mainly from workers in the north west region. The new contracts offer a higher hourly wage, but they scrap workers' rights to double-time and time-and-a-half pay, as well as days in lieu of bank holidays. Asda insists no worker will be worse off. News of the crunch talks overshadowed Asda's announcement earlier in the week that it is spending £12m on a festive bonus package for the 160,000 staff working in its stores and depots. The package means every employee will receive a £20 Christmas gift card to spend in Asda stores, £5 towards a Christmas party and a free festive meal.

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