Asda employees plan protest over controversial contract terms

8183
asda
// Contract 6 could leave 3000 employees worse off despite pay rise
// The GMB Union plans mass protest for Asda workers in Leeds on August 14
// “Give this dedicated workforce a fair deal” says GMB National Officer Gary Carter

Asda staff are set to hold a mass protest in Leeds next week over a controversial new contract that is being rolled out.

Trade union GMB have claimed that Asda’s Contract 6 would leave many staff worse off as it does not include paid breaks and forced to work bank holidays, in return for £9 per hour pay rates.

The union said the new contract terms would leave around 3000 shop floor staff worse off.

As a result, GMB is set to stage a mass protest with Asda workers at City Square in Leeds on August 14.

The union said that speakers will address the crowd, before marching past the supermarket’s headquarters, known as Asda House.

Despite this, the new contract would still include the benefits of an annual bonus, colleague discount, sharesave and pension.

Contract 6 had previously been voluntary for staff to sign up to – but GMB now argues that staff are being forced into signed the new deal.

In a recent consultative ballot, 93 per cent of respondents told the GMB they did not agree with the contract changes.

“This demonstration will send a loud and clear message to Asda that however much pressure management has put on staff to sign, workers believe Contract 6 is still not good enough,” said GMB National Officer Gary Carter.

“Asda is a multi-billion pound, highly profitable company – it can afford to treat staff better than this.

“The new contract cuts holiday entitlement, slashes bank holiday and night shift pay, and introduces an any time, any place, anywhere culture which risks a hugely damaging impact on the predominately part time, low paid, female workforce, who need flexibility that works for them.

“We’re calling on Asda to come back to the negotiating table and give this dedicated workforce a fair deal.”

At the moment there are six types of contracts Asda staff can be on, even if they work in the same store.

Asda’s proposal is to merge Contracts 1 to 5 into one contract – Contract 6.

The retailer said the proposals would give a real terms pay increase for 95 per cent of staff, in return for workers being flexible about when and what times they work.

The grocer added that it would increase the base rate of pay to £9 per hour, plus premiums – such as location weighting or bakery rate – and maintain existing benefits including the annual bonus, share save scheme and colleague discount.

Asda said more than 50,000 colleagues nationwide were already employed on this contract before it opened consultation to standardise the contract base.

A spokesman for Asda said it also listened to the counter proposals from the GMB and National Colleague Voice groups and extended the collective consultation period to continue the discussion.

As a result, changes to the proposals were reportedly made, including amending the break rules to minimise the impact of unpaid breaks and increasing the minimum period required to ask a colleague to change department or working pattern to four weeks.

Other changes include transitional payment for 18 months for any colleagues who would be financially worse off.

“This new contract will see Asda invest in a pay increase for over 100,000 retail colleagues, as well as enabling us to deliver better service to our customers in an intensely competitive marketplace,” an Asda spokesperson said.

“We are continuing to talk to our colleagues about this change and to understand what it might mean for their individual circumstances.”

It is thought Asda workers have been given until November 2 to agree to the new terms.

The news comes as an equal pay case against Asda heads to the Supreme Court after it agreed to consider an appeal brought by the Big 4 grocer.

The Supreme Court is set to consider whether Asda shop floor workers – most of whom are women – can be compared to predominantly-male distribution centre staff for the purposes of equal pay.

A date is yet to be set for the final appeal for the case at the Supreme Court.

Click here to sign up to Retail Gazette‘s free daily email newsletter