Asda says it is to raise basic hourly pay for its retail staff by 18p in April, as a deadline for agreeing a new contract looms that could result in thousands losing their jobs.
The supermarket chain made the announcement as the clock ticks down to 2 November – Saturday – when staff must have signed so-called Contract 6, which aims to simplify terms of employment across the company.
Asda says the “vast majority” of the more than 100,000 workers affected have agreed the deal – which will already see their basic pay rise from £8.21 to £9 an hour from Sunday.
But Sky News has reported claims that up to 12,000 people are resisting the move – with Asda confirming just last week that it had no intention of backing down in the face of union opposition.
The GMB cites the end of paid breaks and argues that greater demands for flexible working will place too much strain on families and care commitments.
It described the planned pay rise as a “smokescreen” and said it showed the chain was “feeling the heat” from the contract row, with staff set to lose their jobs in the run-up to Christmas.
Asda has described the 12,000 figure for potential job losses as “unsubstantiated speculation” and pledged to work with staff to ensure the right balance is struck as it brings in Contract 6, saying it does not want to lose any workers.
Hayley Tatum, senior vice president of people at Asda, said: “I’m pleased that we’re able to confirm a further increase in the basic rate of pay for our retail colleagues, which will be introduced next year, and give certainty to our colleagues despite an unpredictable economic landscape and challenging market.”
GMB national officer, Gary Carter, said: “Asda are using this 18p rise as a smokescreen to distract from the fact they plan to sack workers this weekend unless they sign a punishing new contract.
“It is unprecedented to announce an April pay rise in October – and Asda are clearly feeling the heat of opposition to the imposition of this contract.
“We do not yet know what inflation will be by that point, and so this could end up failing to keep pace with the cost of living.”
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