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Dispute over contracts could lead to strike action at region's Asda stores

PUBLISHED: 13:24 05 September 2019 | UPDATED: 13:24 05 September 2019

The GMB union says new Asda contracts for staff strip away many terms and conditions of employment. The dispute, if it is not settled could escalate to strike action says the union. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

The GMB union says new Asda contracts for staff strip away many terms and conditions of employment. The dispute, if it is not settled could escalate to strike action says the union. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

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A dispute over new contracts for Asda staff could lead to strike action at Suffolk supermarkets if it is not settled, the GMB union is warning.

The Asda store in Lowestoft, where GMB union members will be protesting against new contracts which the union says degrade pay and conditions for staff. Picture:  
MICK HOWESThe Asda store in Lowestoft, where GMB union members will be protesting against new contracts which the union says degrade pay and conditions for staff. Picture: MICK HOWES

The GMB union is holding a series of protests across Asda stores in London and the East, including at the Lowestoft Asda on September 16, against the introduction of the new flexible contracts.

The union says the new contracts give a 63p an hour pay increase but strip away many of the terms and conditions of employment in return, including paid meal breaks, changes to night shifts and a flat rate for Bank Holiday working.

It claims members face the sack if they do not sign them.

However, Asda said the new contracts were about more flexible ways of working in a challenging retail industry.

GMB regional organiser Keith Dixon said the dispute could escalate to strike action if Asda didn't re-think the contracts.

He said: "The majority of staff in Asda stores are GMB colleagues.

"We are having demonstrations against these contracts, there are three today.

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"We haven't had a ballot for industrial action yet. It is currently a possibility for the near future."

He added: "Asda was formed from a Leeds family company built on proud Yorkshire values of hard work and respect. They would be spinning in their graves now.

"Asda's workers have received letters from Asda saying they'll be sacked in 12 weeks' time unless they sign this punishing new contract.

"The new contract, Contract 6, allows Asda to change your pay, terms and conditions, without consultation or agreement. This gives workers no security.

"Loyal Asda colleagues are being rewarded with cuts to terms and conditions, face giving up work to look after elderly or disabled parents and relatives and single parents may sacrifice their only source of income.

"GMB have made it clear to Asda that it's not good enough and it's not acceptable."

A spokesman for Asda said: "The retail sector is immensely competitive and it is important that we are able to serve our customers in the best way to meet their needs.

"This contract is about increasing the take-home pay of more than 100,000 retail colleagues, through an investment of more than £80m, and ensuring that everyone doing the same job is on the same terms and conditions.

"The overwhelming majority of our colleagues from across all our stores 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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