Sainsbury’s is to plough ahead with new contract changes for all workers, despite the fact it means up to 9,000 of its staff will lose out.
It follows months of campaigning from staff and MPs over a consultation that will give thousands a pay rise – and others a pay cut.
On 1 September, the grocer’s minimum wage will increase from £8 to £9.20 an hour.
While this sounds like a welcome move for 121,000 store colleagues, there are also plans to scrap paid breaks and axe Sunday ‘premium’ pay.
It’s a move Sainsbury’s admits will leave up to 9,000 of the firm’s most loyal workers out of pocket – some of them losing £3,000 a year.
Sainsbury’s has been under consultation to scrap legacy contracts since March – however today, the plans have been given the green light.
That’s despite more than 100,000 people signing a petition for the business to protect the workers that stand to lose out.
MP Siobhain McDonagh, who has been pushing the campaign, wrote to Theresa May this week urging her to take action on the grocer to “ensure that no staff will face a pay cut”.
The letter said the business was using the ‘pay rise’ line as a “smokescreen” to cover up the pain workers will face.
“We are completely dismayed that a company of Sainsbury’s reputation would use an increase in basic pay as a smokescreen for a whole array of deplorable decisions that will hit hardest their most dedicated, loyal and long-term staff.”
The MP for Mitcham and Morden told Mirror Money: “How can a company that made pre-tax profit of £589million last year, with a CEO that receives £930,000 before bonuses, think it is right to force a pay cut on thousands of their most longstanding and loyal members of staff? It’s not right and it’s not British to ask people to work well for less.”
However, bosses at the supermarket giant – which is set to merge with rival, Asda – are proud of their choices.
“I believe this is the right thing to do and am proud to be offering such a significant pay boost to over 120,000 store colleagues across the country,” said Simon Roberts, retail and operations director at Sainsbury’s.
“The changes we are introducing from September will make pay and contracts fair and consistent for all of our colleagues, in every store, regardless of age or length of service.
“We don’t want anyone to lose out and, for this reason, our plans have always included top-up payments for an 18-month period to ensure that nobody at Sainsbury’s will earn less than they do today. At the end of the 18 months, in March 2020, we will review our hourly rate of pay again.”
What will happen to workers that refuse to sign new contracts?
Unite has today warned it’s taking legal action against Sainsbury’s.
The union has warned that workers will see their £9.20 pay rise eroded by changes such as the removal of premium Sunday pay.
It added that Sainsbury’s had broken promises after suggesting it would extend the consultation period to address what would happen to staff that refused to sign new contracts.
It’s yet to confirm whether failure to agree to cuts to Sunday premium pay and paid breaks will lead to redundancies.
Unite officer, Joe Clarke, said: “Sainsbury’s had promised to extend the consultation period over the introduction of new contracts and a pay structure until Monday 4 June if needed.
“Unite is seeking legal advice over what we believe is a failure by Sainsbury’s to meaningfully consult. We would urge Sainsbury’s to follow the lead of Asda which has introduced new contracts for its workers on a voluntary basis.
“Sainsbury’s needs to stop threatening loyal hardworking staff with the dole and start engaging more positively with Unite by giving workers the assurances they have been seeking.”
In response, A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said, “We informed Unite yesterday that we had no grounds to continue consultation.
“We are clear there is no legal merit to this claim.
“We have conducted meaningful consultation with colleagues and have invested a further £10m on top of the original £100m to make changes in response to their feedback.”
What’s changing in September?
Roles will be streamlined and broadened moving from 22 specific roles to five: Trading Assistant; Food Services Assistant; Online Assistant; GM & Clothing Assistant and Services Assistant.
Removal of the colleague bonus and paid breaks
- An increase to unsociable hour premium payments, from £2.20 to £2.45 an hour (it’s currently £1.55) for colleagues working between 12am and 5am.
Increase to online driver payments, from 50p to 75p an hour.