Unite calls for Sainsbury's to withdraw ‘sign or be sacked’ contracts amid Asda merger talks

he supermarket giant Sainsbury’s ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ pay offer and ‘sign or be sacked’ new contracts should be withdrawn amid talks of a merger with Asda, Britain’s largest union Unite demanded today (Monday 30 April).

Calling for guarantees on jobs, Unite said that staff were already being ‘put through the mill’ by Sainsbury’s attempts to steamroller through plans which includes cutting Sunday premium pay and paid breaks.  

Plans for a merger with Asda and the possibility of job losses would only heap yet more uncertainty on staff, Unite added, as it demanded urgent talks with senior bosses at both Sainsbury’s and Asda over the merger plans. 

Unite has said that that the firm’s proposal to increase pay to £9.20 an hour for workers at Sainsbury’s 1,400 stores from September would be eroded by such ‘strings’ as removing premium pay for Sunday working. The normal current rate is £8.00 an hour. 

Sainsbury’s bosses have set a deadline of 8 May to conclude talks with Unite. Unite believes that Sainsbury’s is trying ‘to steamroller’ through the package by using the strong arm tactics with the 123,000 workforce being issued with HR1 redundancy notices due to come into effect on 23 September. 

Unite acting national officer for food and drink Joe Clarke said: “Sainsbury’s workers are in a state of shock at the prospect of a merger with Asda. 

“Long serving store staff were already facing the imposition of a ‘sack or sign’ contract, the loss of Sunday premium pay and paid breaks, in addition to no increase in salary until 2020.  

“They along with their colleagues in warehousing and logistics now face the uncertainty of a proposed merger, the threat of more job losses and the possibility of store closures.  

“Loyal workers are being put through the mill by Sainsbury’s bosses’ and should not have to face yet more uncertainty. Sainsbury’s needs to offer job guarantees and withdraw its ‘sign or be sacked’ contracts and stop ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ to fund a pay deal as a matter of urgency. 

“The greatest asset that Sainsbury’s has is its staff. It’s time the supermarket giant started treating them with the respect they deserve.” 

Unite represents more than 12,000 members working for Sainsbury's. In January, the company announced a managerial shake-up that could put thousands of jobs at risk leading to calls from Unite for no compulsory redundancies.  


For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940 or Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.  

Email: shaun.noble@unitetheunion.org

Notes to editors:

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.