Hundreds of Sainsbury’s staff vote on strike over absence policy

Sainsbury's disabled
// Sainsbury’s warehouse workers agree on strike after changes to absence policy
// Hundreds of workers to be involved in “series” of 24 hour strikes
// Usdaw urges Sainsbury’s to renegotiate policy offer

Staff at Sainsbury’s Waltham Point distribution centre have voted in favour of industrial action after a dispute over changes to the retailer’s absence policy, according to Retail Week.

Hundreds of workers at the gigantic warehouse will take part in the action, which will include “a series” of 24 hour strikes.

The depot is the largest of 23 operated by Sainsbury’s to service its stores, employing over 1,200 people and covering over 700,000 sq ft.

The decision comes after a ballot by 380 Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw) members who work at the warehouse.

Almost three-quarters of union members that voted backed plans to walk out.

Usdaw said it hoped that the supermarket giant would “return to the negotiating table” with a “significantly improved offer” in order to avoid industrial action.

“Usdaw has engaged positively with Sainsbury’s in an effort to reach a compromise, but the company has so far failed to make an offer acceptable to our members. This breakdown in negotiations has forced Usdaw to conduct an industrial action ballot and our members have overwhelmingly backed a series of 24-hour strikes,” said Usdaw divisional officer Nigel Scully.

“It is deeply regrettable that the company has pushed our members to this point and we urge them to bring forward an offer in line with our members’ expectations,” Scully added.

“We have contingency plans in place to minimise any disruption this may cause our customers,” a Sainsbury’s spokesperson told Retail Gazette.

Last year Sainsbury’s announced it would be increasing hourly pay for its store workers from a base rate of £8.00 to £9.20 per hour. For colleagues working in stores in Zones 1 and 2 of London, this will increase to £9.80 per hour.

Those increases came at the expense of paid breaks and bonuses, although workers have been promised another review of their pay in March 2020.

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  1. Since the pay revision I am receiving less in my pay packet than I was before despite the “apparent” increase in the hourly rate. Sainsburys abscence policy also appears to date back 150 years to when they were first formed so I am not surprised by the action the staff have been forced to take.

      • The real reason they put the pay up was minimum wage was catching up so gave increase and took breaks off them which was equivalent to over 6% of their wage. They were fined in 2017 by HMRC for paying below minimum wages as were doing searches in people’s own time after the shift had finished and this is just a way of avoiding another fine.

    • Best thing you can do is leave the company, if you’re able to. It is taking its staff for a ride. I left Sainsbury’s in March of last year, after joining in 2011, it’s the best decision I made. I went when they had their big hissy fit about break times on the night shift.

  2. That’s probably because your doing less hours and not getting paid on your break. People that go on strike should in effect look back and think we’ll at least I have a job. If I run Sainsbury’s would be a case of don’t like it well leave, there are plenty of other people looking for work.

    • You’re EXACTLY the kind of cunt they’ve got there in charge. Self serving and utterly fucking clueless. Try working in there like I did 12 years.

      • Quite funny I did work at Sainsbury’s about 10 years ago, absolutely loved the job at first but then hated it after a year so I took some advice which will always stick with me and that was If you don’t like it don’t do it anymore so I quit my job (best thing I ever done) Now I run my own marketing company which I love, all my staff are happy and 90% of them have been there since the start

    • You arse try working under the conditions we have to endure, where your work time is measured in percentages and the bottom five from all shifts are bullied for not meeting the standard of the orhers

    • Sainsbury’s action of a written warning after one absence is vile. This company seems stuck in the dark ages. It’s a pity they are not so passionate about staff being bullied. Clearly they are the worst supermarket chain in history… Well done Me Sainsburys!

  3. Their absence policy is this, if you want any time off you must kiss Mike Coupes feet and tell him how much he deserves his huge wage and bonus.

    15 years I’ve worked at Waltham Point
    3yrs in negotiations..
    Over sick Policies
    They have tarnished 90% of colleagues with the same brush
    The Management are a JOKE

  5. And how about being able to go back to work for the company after 12 months for those that got made redundant last year, the board of directors have gone back on this as well

  6. This article and these comments don’t tell us what the policy actually is.

    If it is the same as the store one then it’s likely to be upsetting people who take time off sick and are likely going to have to modify their behaviors in the future to avoid sanctions. If there is a business case for implementing this absence policy I hope it has been fully explained, absence policies usually exist to reduce the amount of sick that occurs and many people deride that their absence is genuine but if it affects your attendance considerably then you aren’t performing 100% of your job, your turning up for 90% then someone else has to do the other 10% and that takes money.

  7. I don’t understand why you all complain. I get so much more money now since the pay went up. It s basic math that you will take more, even with the break.
    And mostly in all jobs you are not paid for your break. I used to work for Starbucks for 7.45 and Taco Bell for. 5.75 and wasn’t paid breakes there either. You complain for 9.2??
    You just serve people at the checkout or put stock on shelves how much more do you want to be paid for that?

    • Sorry Maria minimum wage is £8.21 so you are obviously talking rubbish. Plus you need a new calculator as the new contract means less per hour and shorter breaks for everyone.

  8. Quite funny I did work at Sainsbury’s about 10 years ago, absolutely loved the job at first but then hated it after a year so I took some advice which will always stick with me and that was If you don’t like it don’t do it anymore so I quit my job (best thing I ever done) Now I run my own marketing company which I love, all my staff are happy and 90% of them have been there since the start

  9. How fair is it that my career is now on the line all because the colleagues are striking over a change in the absence policy.

    Just don’t go off sick ever and then it won’t matter anyway

    • So Rickie, when you were off sick for two paid years with cancer, can you explain how that counts towards your plan of never going sick ever? Perhaps you can do stand up comedy after all.

  10. They talk to us like we’re nothing, promote bad methods of work and then discipline when we get injured. They would rather we jumped corners and Health & safety to get a good pick rate rather than promote health and well-being and have a healthy happy workforce.
    Wouldn’t treat a bad dog this way.

  11. If I say ‘it didn’t have any effect on the business’ enough times, will that make it true?
    Please tell me it will, This has hit me harder than one of Penny’s come downs.

  12. It’s a complete dump to work in, was genuinely ill for 3weeks received a written warning took a disciplinary & surprise, surprise was upheld, can’t understand how a manager is able to make medical decisions. All these comments are correct you are treated like a piece of shit by idiots who don’t know what to manage is.


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