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UK: ASDA accused of pressuring workers to accept new 'punitive' contract requiring unpaid breaks and compulsory bank holiday shifts; Incl. co. comments

In August 2019, Asda was accused by workers of forcing them to accept a new contract, 'Contract 6'. The contract, which was previously voluntary increases wages to £9 an hour, and introduces unpaid breaks and compulsory bank holiday shifts. Staff can also be asked to agree to work more flexible times and in different departments in their store. 

According to GMB Union, workers have been told if they do not sign the contract they face unemployment on 2 November 2019, and will not be paid sick leave until they have signed. This deadline was extended to 10 November. Asda have denied they are forcing workers to make a choice. 

In response to Contract 6, workers staged protests at Asda stores in August and September 2019. 

Comments from Asda and GMB Union can be found in the articles below.

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Article
4 November 2019

UK: Asda gives staff extra week to sign 'controversial' contract 6 or face dismissal

Author: Ashleigh Webber, Personnel Today

"Asda staff given extra week to sign new contract or lose jobs", 4 November 2019

The company has extended its deadline for workers to sign the new contract...until Sunday 10 November.

Staff had originally been given until Saturday 2 November to sign its controversial “contract 6” or be dismissed from their roles...

...A spokesperson for the retailer said fewer than 300 people had not agreed to the new terms...“...we’re pleased that almost 120,000 of our retail colleagues are now working on the same contract, with the same terms and conditions..."...

...Gary Carter, national officer at the GMB union, said: “...a seven-day delay won’t change the fact that people – often women workers with kids, caring responsibilities or other part-time jobs – simply can’t sign up to these new terms.”

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Article
31 October 2019

UK: Asda's 18p pay rise announcement described as 'smokescreen' as row over new contract continues

Author: Zoe Wood, The Guardian

"Asda announces pay rise as contract row continues", 29 October 2019

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...described the pay offer as a smokescreen...

...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...

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Article
23 October 2019

UK: Up to 12,000 Asda workers could face dismissal if they refuse new contract that reportedly leaves staff 'worse off'

Author: Sarah Butler, The Guardian

"Up to 12,000 Asda workers could lose jobs amid contract row " 21 October 2019

Up to 12,000 Asda workers could lose their jobs next week, according to union officials, if they refuse to sign up to a new contract that will hit pay and benefits for thousands of workers...

...In August, the company told staff if they did not sign up to the new deal they would leave the business on 2 November...

...The deal has been nicknamed the “Martini contract” after the drink’s 1970s advertising slogan “any time, any place, anywhere”...

...The pay changes come after Asda group’s profits rose by 13% to £805m last year, while payouts to directors increased to £12m from £9.5m the year before....

...the GMB believes at least 6,000 staff could be financially worse off out of 118,000 Asda store staff it says are on hourly pay...

...Gary Carter, the GMB national officer, has written to Asda asking it to postpone the contract change and ensure there were no dismissals through negotiations with the union...

...An Asda spokesperson said: “We have been clear that we don’t want any of our colleagues to leave us and while the vast majority of colleagues have chosen to sign the new contract, we continue to have conversations with those who have chosen not to, to try to understand their concerns. It is vital that we make sure we are prepared to adapt to the demands of our market..."...

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Article
6 September 2019

UK: Nationwide protests erupt as Asda allegedly deny sick leave until workers sign new contract

Author: Rosie Lintott, Retail Insight Network

"Asda workers protest across UK over controversial contract", 5 September 2019

UK Asda workers are staging protests today over the imposition of Contract 6...

...According to general trade union GMB, the supermarket giant is ‘punishing’ workers that haven’t signed the new contract by not giving them paid sick leave until they have signed. If they do not sign, they face unemployment on 2 November...

...GMB members have said the new contract is ‘forcing’ them to pick between caring for unwell relatives or losing their jobs just before Christmas.

The protests will take place at Asda stores in Liverpool, London, Hull, Crewe, Dundee, Sheffield, Glasgow, Cwmbran, South Shields, Sheffield, Stockport, Portsmouth, Livingston and Newcastle-under-Lyme...

 ...An Asda spokesperson told Retail Insight Network: “...This contract is about increasing the take-home pay of more than 10,000 retail colleagues...and ensuring that everyone doing the same job is on the same terms and conditions. The overwhelming majority of our colleagues...have signed onto the new contracts and while we appreciate that some of our colleagues find the changes more unsettling, we do not want any of them to leave. We understand colleagues have commitments outside of work and will not be asking them to constantly move the time they work, their days or departments.”

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Article
19 August 2019

UK: ASDA Chief Executive denies staff being forced to sign new 'contract 6'

Author: Ben Wray, Common Space

"Exclusive: Asda Chief Exec claims staff are not being forced to sign new contracts despite worker claims to the contrary", 12 August 2019

The supermarket Asda’s chief executive Roger Burnley has denied claims by workers in the GMB union that they have been told to sign new ‘flexible’ contracts or face redundancy,..

...Burnley...said in a letter...that the new contracts were “not about forcing any colleagues to make a choice”....

...“We have held several 1-2-1 meetings with each individual colleague and encouraged them to ask questions about the contract and outline their expectations of individual circumstances."...Despite this, Asda members of the GMB have reported to the union that they have been given until 2 November...to sign Contract 6, which had previously been voluntarily but, the union say, has now been made mandatory....

...In his letter to Stephens, Burnley said Contract 6 was necessary for the company...to remain “competitive”.

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Article
19 August 2019

UK: ASDA staff protest over conditions of new contract

Author: BBC News

"Asda staff in Leeds protest over new working contract", 14 August 2019

Hundreds of Asda workers...held a rally and march in Leeds over the details of a new contract.The protest by staff from across the country was organised by the GMB union.

Asda is offering staff a higher wage in exchange for a new contract that would introduce unpaid breaks and a requirement to work on bank holidays. Asda said it would increase the pay "of more than 100,000" staff. The GMB said the "highly-profitable" firm "could afford to treat staff better"...

 ...GMB national officer Gary Carter, said: "Asda is a multibillion-pound, highly-profitable company and it can afford to treat staff better than this..."

Asda said the new contract was "an investment of more than £80m, and ensuring that everyone doing the same job is on the same terms and conditions...The retail sector is undergoing significant change and it is important that we are able to keep pace with these changes...The overwhelming majority of our colleagues have signed on to the new contracts and while we appreciate that some of our colleagues find the changes more unsettling, we do not want any of them to leave."

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Article
6 August 2019

UK: Asda workers set to strike after supermarket allegedly forces workers to accept ‘punitive’ new contract or face termination

Author: Emma Munbodh, The Mirror

"Thousands of Asda workers told to sign "punitive" new contracts or face the sack", 5 August 2019

Thousands of Asda workers are set to protest over a wave of new contract changes that could leave many employees worse off…

…The contract has previously been voluntary…however GMB union members now say they are being forced into signing the new deal. Under the terms, bank holidays will be made compulsory while paid breaks will be scrapped in exchange for a new £9 an hour basic rate. Staff could also be asked to agree to work more flexible times and different departments in their store…

…However, according to documents seen by the Daily Record, Asda is now threatening to terminate the employment of those who turn down the revised terms…

...Union GMB described the move as ‘punitive’…” The new contract…introduces an any time, any place, anywhere culture which risks a hugely damaging impact on the predominately part time, low paid, female workforce…”

...The grocer admitted around 5% of workers would be worse off under the changes but said 'transitional payments' would be in place…for up to 18 months. Speaking on the proposed changes…an Asda spokesman told Mirror Money..."...We are continuing to talk to our colleagues about this change and to understand what it might mean for their individual circumstances.”

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