Sainsbury’s accused of using pay rise as “smokescreen” to cut benefits


Sainsbury’s has been accused by Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh of using the recently announced staff pay rises as a “smokescreen” to cut benefits.

Earlier this week the UK’s second largest grocer announced it would be raising the its basic rate of pay for all 130,000 staff members from £8 per hour to £9.20 per hour.

Although this would be the highest pay rate per hour of any UK grocer, Sainsbury’s has drawn criticism for slashing paid breaks and premium pay for unsocial working hours.

In a letter sent to Sainsbury’s chief executive Mike Coupe, McDonagh stated: “How is it reasonable for an employer in the 21st century not to pay their staff for their 15-minute break if they are doing a full seven-hour shift?

“Staff who have dedicated their lives to your organisation and are extremely loyal towards it will lose out most in these shocking proposals.

“I am dismayed that a company of Sainsbury’s reputation would treat its most dedicated long-term staff in this matter.”

In response to the letter Sainsbury’s said it looked forward to “explaining to Siobhain how we are investing over £100m in our store colleagues.

“This brings our base rate to an industry-leading £9.20, which represents a 30 per cent increase in our colleague base rate over the past four years.”

McDonagh has been a fierce and vocal opponent of organisations administering pay changes, having led a campaign in 2016 against Marks & Spencer’s proposed pay changes.

She also led a Christmas campaign called “Christmas Living Rage” in which she criticised retailers who used the National Minimum Wage rises to cut staff benefits.

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  1. Not a smoke screen.. colleagues were 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.

    • No one was asked knowing the full implications of such choices!

      Also, in a few years £9.20 will be the wage anyway, included the benefits, so it looks great £9.20 now, but not when everyone catches up & were minus the benefits, I’m guessing staff discount will be the next to go.

  2. I think the proposal is more than fair. Why should some staff recieve premiums in their pay just because they have been at the company longer? The company is investing in it’s people and the vast majority of staff will benefit from the new rate per hour.

    • Because some staff have to work unsocial hours and weekends. It sainsburys way of pushing through contract change. Simple. If you haven’t had a raise in pay for years due to your contract why should everyone else get one. It works both ways. Sainsbury didn’t view that as an issue before.

  3. Not true have worked for Sainsburys for three years and did not get asked to chose the benefits that meant the most, I will be worse off after pay rise so how is that a pay rise?

  4. Lost the 2 quid you’d get for a paid 15 minuet break, but make an extra 8 quid over the course of the rest of the shift. You’re 6 quid up.

  5. Nightshift worker here who will be £900 worse off a year thanks to the changes. Currently the only premium I get is Nightshift premium!

  6. i am an online driver for sainsburys and my drivers skills premium is due to halved from £1 an hour to just 50p per hour which is one they are not broadcasting and we feel is very unfair.

  7. Having worked for Sainsburys for 8+ in a large store, I can state that no colleague from this store was asked “which benefits” staff would prefer. A lot of part time colleagues will benefit the most from this, as they have no paid break to loose.

  8. Interesting how so many people receive different pay for the same job. That answers exactly why the changes need to be made. Why should one person receive extra per hour just because they have worked there longer than the next person when they do exactly the same job?

    As for unpaid breaks, companies who pay breaks are few & far between. In the past 30 years of working Ive never worked for a company who does except Sainsburys – and the extra £1.20 per hour more than makes up for the 1.5 hrs I will loose on unpaid breaks.

    Plus the person writing the article clearly has no clue if thry think you only get a 15 minute break in a 7 hr shift – its actually double that.

    • I was never asked which benefits I’d like to keep. Neither was anyone else in my store. I’ve been there nearly ten years.

      I work a seven hour shift every Saturday and I only get a 15 minute break so clearly whoever is writing the article has some idea.

  9. As a nightshift member and a single parent who DOESN’T have the option to increase my hours I will lose all my benefits for £1.04 pay increase a month, while someone on days will receive over £100 a month more for the same amount of hours. Putting them £20 worse off than me but that’s fair?


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