The way that Asda has treated its dedicated workforce over new contracts is nothing short of appalling.
You can read more on my support for the GMB’s campaign calling on Asda to respect their workers in this week’s Rutherglen Reformer
We are all entitled to be treated with dignity and respect in the work place but ASDA’s recent moves to blanket roll out ‘Contract 6’ , along with the heavy handed tactics used to push its implementation have fallen far short of treating workers with dignity and compassion.
ASDA’s proposal is that all employees, including those 68,000 people currently on contracts 1-5 are moved on to Contract 6, which had previously been a voluntary move for those who opted to do so, with all staff moving on to an hourly pay rate of £9. However, this comes at the expense of workers annual leave days, higher night shift and bank holiday rates as well as an end paid breaks and will allow bosses to dictate working hours through their new ‘flexibility’ clause which allows them to alter hours, start and finishing times and the days that staff are expected to work. A large number of workers facing these changes are woman who are disproportionately affected by restrictions on their flexibility as many of them also have outside caring and family responsibilities that will face a knock on effect both financially and socially.
While ASDA chiefs have attempted to argue that their motives behind the move are positive, it’s draconian actions have painted a different picture. In recent weeks we have seen staff speaking out through their trade unions and campaign groups against a culture of intimidation and fear that has grown around this contractual change. Last week, the retailer issued official guidance to staff advising them if they had not agreed to move to the new terms as a result they will face a termination of their employment in 12 weeks.
ASDA have stuck to their line that this move has been in aid of increasing hourly rates overall, but the workers have made clear that it is just not worth it. A move to contract 6 would increase the current rate by 63 pence per hour, still falling short of that offered by Sainsbury’s which last year merged into the same company. Furthermore, it is an increase only reflective of national legal minimums required of employers.
It is unacceptable that hardworking people are facing the fear and distress of unemployment with others feeling like ‘prisoners’ at work who mean nothing despite their loyalty. Many have given years of service to the company that is now telling them it’s contract 6 or nothing, and who are acting in a way that completely contradicts the values and principles of the government’s fair work agenda
It is vital that ASDA listens to workers, including those workers in local stores like Toryglen, and takes their concerns and fears into account. Dismissal should not be the knee-jerk reaction to staff who are scared of such big prospective changes, instead they require conversation and compromise. This is a debate about reasonableness and respect for staff, people should never be signing new contracts out of fear – ASDA should be ashamed of themselves.