Sainsbury’s new contracts which the supermarket says are a ‘boost’ to staff have been accused of bringing in a “dogsbody contract” by staff members speaking to the media.
More than 100 MPs have written a joint letter saying that they believe the increase in basic pay is being used to cover up the end of benefits such as premium Sunday pay and paid breaks.
The letter said: “We are completely dismayed that a company of Sainsbury’s reputation would use an increase in basic pay as a smokescreen for a whole array of deplorable decisions that will hit hardest their most dedicated, loyal and long-term staff.
“Under the proposed changes, all employees will lose their paid breaks, there will be widespread cuts to premium pay including a shortening of night-shift premium hours and a scrapping of Sunday premium pay, and shop floor staff will no longer receive bonuses.
“However, the scrapping of the bonus scheme will not affect the CEO, Mike Coupe, or his fellow management team.”
Sainsbury’s argues the new contract, which will see wages increased from £8 to £9.20 per hour, is a “boost” to staff members.
Simon Roberts, retail and operations manager at Sainsbury’s said: “I believe this is the right thing to do and am proud to be offering such a significant pay boost to over 120,000 store colleagues across the country.
“The changes we are introducing from September will make pay and contracts fair and consistent for all of our colleagues, in every store, regardless of age or length of service.”
Staff speaking to media explained that a discretionary bonus scheme was being cut that would affect the company’s oldest staff members.
Siobhain McDonagh MP for Mitcham and Morden said: “We are disappointed that 9,000 members of the most loyal staff are going to receive a pay cut. We suspect that a lot of them are older and have probably given years of service. They shouldn’t be hit because they are loyal and hard working and work the unpopular hours.”
In a statement Unite officer Joe Clarke said that he suspected the plans had been “predetermined in advance of the recent plans to merge with Asda”. Clarke went on to accuse Sainsbury’s of “holding a gun to workers’ heads with the threat of ‘sign up to the new contract or be out of a job’”.
A Sainsbury’s spokesman further defended the new contract saying: “If you look at the retail environment it’s tough out there, as we’ve seen in the announcement from M&S this week, whereas what we are doing is offering a significant pay rise and we are disappointed that it’s being misrepresented in this way.”