05/08/2019 15:29 BST

Asda Employees Set To Protest Over 'Punitive' New Contracts

GMB Union members say they do not think this contract is a fair deal.

PA Wire/PA Images

Asda employees are expected to participate in a mass protest after they accused the supermarket giant of attempting to impose a “punitive” contract on staff.

The so-called ‘flexible’ contract 6 will put an end to paid breaks, according to the GMB, and workers will be forced to work bank holidays for just £9.00 per hour.

GMB Union members have slammed the measure, describing it as harsh and accusing the retailer of trying to force them into signing the contract. 

Asda workers from across the country will gather in Leeds City Centre at 12pm on August 14 in an organised demonstration against the measure.

Gary Carter, GMB National Officer, said that Asda “can afford to treat staff better than this”. 

“This demonstration will send a loud and clear message to Asda that however much pressure management has put on staff to sign, workers believe contract 6 is still not good enough,” he told HuffPost UK.

“The new contract cuts holiday entitlement, slashes bank holiday and night shift pay, and introduces an any time, any place, anywhere culture which risks a hugely damaging impact on the predominately part time, low paid, female workforce, who need flexibility that works for them.

“We’re calling on Asda to come back to the negotiating table and give this dedicated workforce a fair deal”.

The divisive work agreement had previously been voluntary for staff, but GMB members are now saying they are being strong-armed into signing the new deal.

In a recent consultative ballot, 93% of respondents told GMB that they did not agree with the contract changes which were being forced on them.

An Asda spokesperson told HuffPost UK: “This new contract will see Asda invest in a pay increase for over 100,000 retail colleagues, as well as enabling us to deliver better service to our customers in an intensely competitive marketplace.

“We are continuing to talk to our colleagues about this change and to understand what it might mean for their individual circumstances.”

The spokesperson also explained that the retailer has agreed a transitional payment for 18 months for any staff members who would be financially worse off.

This comes after Sainsbury’s announced plans to move staff onto new contracts in September.

Its plans proved controversial because the supermarket is scrapping a number of staff benefits, the Press Association reported in May. While Sainsbury’s is increasing its basic pay, it is ending paid breaks and premium pay on Sunday for thousands of staff.

It sparked fears that this move will leave 9,000 staff members worse off.