Sheffield TUC today called on ASDA to stop forcing new contracts on its workers – contracts which will make many of them worse off and force them to work more flexible hours.
“We support the GMB union, which has been campaigning vigorously to get ASDA to change course” said Martin Mayer, Secretary of Sheffield TUC. “We can’t stand by and see a profitable US-owned multinational company force through contract changes against the wishes of its employees – or face the sack!” he added.
Instead of using the collective bargaining machinery (by negotiating with the GMB union) ASDA is simply dictating to its workers “sign the new contract or be out of a job next week”. Although the new contract increases basic hourly pay rates, this is more than offset by the elimination of paid breaks, cuts to premium pay on most bank holidays and reductions in the number of hours that qualify for night rate. The GMB estimates more than 6000 workers will be worse off financially.
Many more workers will be affected by the new flexibility requirement in working hours. This could mean being forced to work longer shifts on irregular work patterns, changes to shifts at short notice and much less certainty about days off and weekend breaks.
Sheffield TUC’s Sheffield Needs a Pay Rise campaign raises further concerns, that employers like ASDA are raising the headline hourly rate in preparation for a new £10 Minimum Living Wage (Labour has promised to introduce this immediately if it wins the next general election) but cutting back other premiums and bonuses to pay for it – and introducing unwelcome shift changes and “flexibility” that works one way – for the bosses!
“Any deterioration in pay and working conditions is unwelcome” says Martin Mayer “when 25 % of Sheffield workers are already on lousy pay in insecure jobs. Pay levels in our city have still not recovered since the financial crash and average pay is at 2004 pre-crash levels. Asda group’s profits rose by 13% to £805m last year, while pay-outs to directors increased to £12m from £9.5m the year before. Don’t tell me ASDA can’t afford it!” Martin concluded.
Martin Mayer is Secretary of Sheffield TUC