Asda herbs staff

The GMB union said the rise would force Asda’s 120,000-plus staff to earn well below the industry average

Asda has strongly denied claims it is forcing its staff to resort to using food banks and payday lenders, after it awarded a 7.35% pay rise, to be spread over the next two years.

The GMB union, with which Asda has a collective bargaining agreement with in depots but not in stores, slammed the rise. It said it would force Asda’s 120,000-plus staff to earn well below the industry average, at a time of soaring costs of living and food price increases.

The union claimed the “imposed”, below-inflation pay increase meant shop staff would get just 3.25%, meaning they would earn just £9.66 per hour from April.

Aldi, Lidl, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s all pay their staff on average more than £10 an hour.

Tesco announced a 2.7% increase for its staff hourly rates last year, which saw their pay increase from £9.30 to £9.55 an hour.

However, Asda, which negotiated the deal with the Usdaw union, stressed that it was a two-year deal worth 7.35%, which would breach the £10 an hour figure. It also stressed it was the only supermarket to pay all retail colleagues a guaranteed bonus – with the amount they receive depending on hours worked and individual performance.

The average payout of the bonus this year is £460.

Today’s claim from the union adds to controversy over pay at the company, with a ballot of 8,000 distribution and clerical staff currently being balloted on a pay offers ranging from 4.98% to 7.53%. The GMB has said it would have “no choice” but to ballot workers on strike action if the deal was not accepted.

Workers have until next week to accept the offer.

“We value the great job our store colleagues do serving customers every day and reflecting this we are increasing their hourly pay rates by 7.35% over the next two years,” said an Asda spokesman.

“Our hourly rates will rise to £9.66 in April and to £10.06 in April 2023. We remain the only supermarket to pay all store colleagues a bonus, worth several hundred pounds a year on average, as part of a comprehensive benefits package.”

However, Nadine Houghton, GMB national officer, said: “Asda bosses are forcing retail workers to accept pay well below the industry average.

“Most other supermarkets pay more than £10 an hour – Asda workers are looking at just £9.66 from April.

“The worst cost of living crisis in decades has seen them forced to use payday lenders and food banks while their mental health suffers.

“Asda bosses should do better by their hardworking staff who kept the country fed throughout the pandemic.”