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Woocommerce Category Post Widget
Asda is raising the hourly rate paid to its supermarket staff by 18p next year amid a row with staff over new contracts that has left thousands of staff facing the sack this weekend.
Union officials, who claim 12,000 workers face losing their jobs on Saturday after refusing to sign the new employment contract, described the pay offer as a smokescreen.
Gary Carter, the GMB national officer, said it was unprecedented to announce an April pay rise in October and Asda was clearly “feeling the heat” of its campaign.
In the summer the supermarket chain told employees that if they did not accept the new deal they would have to leave when it kicked in on Sunday 3 November. The contract has a higher basic rate of £9 an hour but involves sacrificing paid breaks and extra cash for working most bank holidays and some night-shift hours.
On Tuesday Asda said the hourly rate, which applies to 118,000 staff, would go up again in April to £9.18. The majority of Asda staff are on contracts currently paying £8.21 an hour (the national minimum wage), which means their basic rate of pay will rise 11% in a year.
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. 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.”
The new contract also forces workers to accept variable shifts between 8am and 10pm and to switch between departments as required. This has led to it being nicknamed the “Martini contract”, after the drink’s 1970s advertising slogan “any time, any place, anywhere”. The GMB has written to Asda asking it to postpone the contract change.
Asda group’s profits rose by 13% to £805m last year, while payouts to directors increased to £12m from £9.5m the year before.
Asda says 95% of its hourly paid staff will be financially better off under the new terms. The retailer, which is owned by the US firm Walmart, said the 2020 pay rise gave “certainty to our colleagues despite an unpredictable economic landscape and challenging market”.
In London, which has an additional allowance to reflect the higher cost of living, basic pay will increase from £8.80 an hour to £10.11 on Sunday, and to £10.31 next year.
The UK’s third largest supermarket has agreed to top up wages until mid-2021 for those losing out under the new deal. It also maintains existing benefits including an annual bonus, share save scheme and staff discount. Asda says working on the festive bank holidays of Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day will continue to be voluntary with pay at double time.