A 124,000 strong petition supporting Sainsbury’s shop floor staff’s working rights was submitted yesterday to the company’s headquarters by Siobhain McDonagh MP, as contract changes across the organisation could see staff wages “plummet”.
Michelle Cooper, who started the petition and is using a pseudonym to protect her identity, said Sainsbury’s announced “wholesale contract changes across the organisation” in March, but “spun them to the media as an ‘increase in basic pay’”. She added: “Because of these changes, I will be one of the thousands of long standing and loyal Sainsbury’s staff who will see our wages plummet.”
A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said: “We’re investing over £110m and introducing one fair and consistent contract for all Sainsbury’s store colleagues. At present we have colleagues working side by side in stores every day, carrying out the same role but being paid different amounts and that’s not fair.”
She added: “Our plans will see over 120,000 colleagues receive a significant pay rise. We appreciate that a small minority of colleagues will not benefit from these changes and that’s why we have protections in place to ensure that no-one will earn less than they do today.”
However, Cooper said those working unsociable hours over weekends will see earnings slashed and could lose bonuses. She said she “personally stands to lose over £1,000 per year” and added that some of her colleagues “will lose as much as £3,000”.
Cooper also said if changes are not accepted by staff by September 2018, “Sainsbury’s will dismiss [staff] from [their] jobs”. A spokesperson told Retail Sector it was “absolutely not true” that jobs are at risk. “The fact is that if you choose that you want to work for Sainsbury’s that would be your own decision.
“Nobody is going to lose any money and the vast majority will be getting a significant pay increase. There are no jobs at risk here and pay is protected, it’s that simple. To turn around and say, ‘if you’re not going to sign a contract you’re going to be fired’ is highly misleading.”
UPDATE: Joanne McGuinness, Usdaw national officer said: “Sainsbury’s pay deal represents a substantial pay rise for the vast majority. However 7% of, mainly long-serving, staff could be worse-off after the 18 months of top-up payments end. They are questioning the fairness of this and we will continue in talks with the company to try to resolve this issue. The petition demonstrates that there are concerns among the general public and we hope the company is listening.”