Asda workers have been told to sign ‘punitive’ contracts or risk losing their jobs

By Lloyd Bent
Monday, 05 August, 2019, 09:49

Thousands of Asda workers are to protest a wave of forced contract changes that could leave many employees worse off.

The protest, scheduled for 14 August, comes as a response to the supermarket chain’s new so-called ‘flexible’ contract 6, which is being enforced across the board.

Contract 6 sees paid breaks scrapped and bank holiday work made compulsory, in exchange for a £9 per hour basic rate.

Compulsory bank holiday work and no paid breaks

Staff say they are being forced into signing the contracts if they want to keep their jobs.

Previously, the contract was voluntary, but documents seen by the Daily Record revealed that those who turn down the new terms face losing their jobs.

A leaflet given to workers explains, “You will have a number of 121s with your manager. As part of the 121 process, we hope you agree to move to the new contract.

“If you still don’t want to sign up to the new contract after those 121s, at that stage, we would issue notice to terminate your employment on your existing terms and conditions.

“We will offer to re-engage you on the new terms. If you choose not to accept the new terms, you would leave the business.”

Workers could lose hundreds of pounds

Union GMB has called the proposed contract changes “punitive” and said that workers stand to lose out on hundreds of pounds a year. It also said that in a ballot of union members, 93 per cent of workers said that they were not happy with the new contracts they were being asked to sign.

Gary Carter, GMB National Officer, said, “We're calling on Asda to come back to the negotiating table and give this dedicated workforce a fair deal.

“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.

“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 predominantly part time, low paid, female workforce, who need flexibility that works for them.”

Sainsbury’s already has no paid breaks

A spokesperson for Asda clarified that, although the new contracts meant employees would have to work most bank holidays, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day would remain voluntary and staff working on those days would receive double time.

In April, the supermarket said that it had entered consultation with employees over the new contracts, and that 50,000 employees were already on them.

The grocer admitted five per cent of workers would be worse off under the changes but said “transitional payments” would be in place for these employees for up to 18 months.

The move by Asda follows a similar decision by rival Sainsbury’s, which last year made the decision to axe paid breaks.