An MP has written to Asda chief Roger Burnley slamming the company’s move to change staff contracts, which will force thousands of workers to lose holidays and bonus pay.
Last week the supermarket announced it was raising minimum hourly store wages but scrapping paid breaks, in a move it claimed would benefit most staff but leave around 3,000 of the 60,000 staff affected worse off.
Siobhain McDonagh, MP for Mitcham and Morden, accused Asda, which is also ending premium pay and shortening night shift hours, of using improved basic pay as a “smokescreen” to slash staff costs.
“Asda is one of the high street’s most long-standing and well-respected brands,” she said.
“Of course I welcome any increase in basic pay, but I am completely appalled that this is being used as a smokescreen to slash the salaries of 3,000 of their most loyal staff, under the guise of an increase in hourly pay.”
My urgent letter to CEO @asda: downgrading contracts, unpaid breaks and shortened nightshift will see 3,000 staff salaries fall - all under the smokescreen of an ‘increase in basic pay’. That’s ASDA price… pic.twitter.com/FT7sXa1Vof— Siobhain McDonagh MP (@Siobhain_MP) April 16, 2019
Asda plans to move hourly paid retail staff in England, Scotland and Wales to new contracts that raises the lowest rate from £8.21 to £9 but also requires “more flexibility” over hours and departments.
Staff could have their hours and departments changed at three weeks’ notice under the proposals, and will be required to work bank holidays or take them as paid leave.
McDonagh said the move bore all the echoes of changes to contracts made by Sainsbury’s last year, which led to a petition signed by more than 120,000 people and a letter to the PM from over 100 MPs.
In her letter, the MP called on Burnley to justify how 3,000 staff would be made financially worse off by the proposals, with approximately 2,700 of these 3,000 staff losing up to £500 per year and around 300 over £500 per year.
“These consequences have been disguised by an increase in basic pay,” she said. “But this increase comes at a cost, with staff set to lose paid breaks, premium pay and see the night shift hours shortened.”
In a response letter to the MP, Burnley said Asda was making the changes in response to changing shopping habits and was fully consulting with staff.
‘Although 50,000 of our colleagues are already on this contract, in the interests of fairness and to achieve the necessary level of flexibility we need all of our colleagues to be on the same terms. In return for this, we propose to increase the take-home pay of over 100,000 colleagues. This proposal represents an overall investment of at least £80m.’
An Asda spokesman added: “We are currently consulting with our colleagues and their representatives over a proposal to invest in an increased rate of pay and changes to terms and conditions, which would enable us to deliver better service to our customers in an intensely competitive marketplace and would make 95% of our colleagues financially better off. This consultation is ongoing and we will always have conversations about changes with our colleagues first.”