The controversy surrounding Sainsbury’s proposed changes to staff pay has continued to develop as Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh calls them “deplorable”.
According to McDonagh, around 10 per cent of Sainsbury’s staff will lose out under the new proposals, many of them its “most dedicated, loyal and long-term staff”.
Sainsbury’s announced last week that it planned to raise basic pay for its 130,000 staff from £8 to £9.20, becoming the highest paying major grocer in the UK.
However, the company also announced plans to cut paid breaks, stop premium pay for Sundays and the shortening of night shift premium hours to 12am-5am.
These measures will reportedly mean 13,000 staff members would be worse off under the proposals.
Since publishing the story last week, the Retail Gazette has received comments from many Sainsbury’s staff members who are concerned about the proposed changes, alongside many who welcomed it.
One anonymous source stated that staff had been “asked 18 months ago to choose the benefits that meant the most to them as some would have to go”.
“They’ve also been very clear about what benefits will be going when announcing this to colleagues,” they said.
Others refuted this.
“No one was asked knowing the full implications of such choices,” one person wrote.
Another added: “I have worked for them for 20 years. The scenario you have described did not/has not happened.”
Many welcomed the changes.
“I think the proposal is more than fair. Why should some staff receive premiums in their pay just because they have been at the company longer? The company is investing in its people and the vast majority of staff will benefit from the new rate per hour,” one person wrote.
Another compared standard pay to Sainsbury’s bigger rival: “Fair play Sainsbury’s for looking after the workforce, Tesco have won the race for paying nowhere near the living wage.”
However, the majority of those who commented on Retail Gazette’s story last week compounded McDonagh’s accusations that many would lose out.
“As a night shift worker I currently earn £10.06 an hour but the reduction in night shift premium is borderline ridiculous,” one staff member wrote.
Meanwhile, another night shift worker said they would be “£900 worse off a year thanks to the changes”.
In response, a Sainsbury’s spokesperson said: “We were pleased to meet Siobhain in parliament yesterday to discuss our colleague pay proposals and explain that this is a pay increase for over 90 per cent of our colleagues – over 120,000 individuals – making Sainsbury’s the top paying retailer in the industry.
“We have committed to investing over £100 million to take our base rate of pay to £9.20 an hour from September.
“Our colleagues will receive, on average, an eight per cent pay increase this year, in addition to a four per cent pay rise for the past three years, giving a 30 per cent pay increase over four years.
“We have a number of legacy contracts which mean that colleagues are being paid differently depending on the length of time they have worked with us which clearly isn’t fair. These proposals aim to make everything fair and consistent for all.
“We appreciate that a number of colleagues will be adversely affected and we have thought very carefully about how we support these colleagues.
“This is why we have proposed top-up payments for an 18 month period, starting from September, through to March 2020, which is the date of our next pay review.”