Britain’s largest union, Unite accused Sainsbury’s of breaking its promises and said it would be seeking legal advice over the supermarket giant’s failure to meaningfully consult over a ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ pay offer and the introduction of ‘sign or be sacked’ new contacts.

Unite had anticipated that an extension to the consultation period over the introduction of a controversial pay structure and new contracts would run until Monday 4 June as it is yet to receive assurances from Sainsbury’s that workers would be able to sign up to new arrangements on a voluntary basis. 

Instead Sainsbury’s announced today (Thursday 24 May) that it would plough on with the plans that will see staff robbed of Sunday premium pay and paid breaks with the threat of redundancy still unresolved. 

Sainsbury’s had previously issued the workforce with HR1 redundancy notices in an attempt to steamroller through the changes. According to Unite, staff who do not sign up to the new contracts and pay structure will effectively be made redundant come September when the changes come into effect.

Unite fears that Sainsbury’s had already pre-determined the outcome of the consultation over the changes to pay and terms and conditions months ago in order to harmonise Sainsbury’s staff contracts with those of Asda workers in readiness for the proposed merger.

Unite has said that Sainsbury’s plans to increase pay to £9.20 per hour would be eroded by such strings as the removal of premium Sunday pay.

Commenting acting national officer for food and drink Joe Clarke said: “Sainsbury’s had promised to extend the consultation period over the introduction of new contracts and a pay structure until Monday 4 June if needed.

“Instead bosses have cut short the consultation extension over the plans which will leave thousands out of pocket while still holding a gun to workers’ heads with the threat of sign up to the new contract or be out of a job.

“We have very real concerns that the consultation process over the pay offer and changes to contracts has been nothing more than a PR exercise with the outcome pre-determined in advance of the recent plans to merge with Asda.  

“Unite is seeking legal advice over what we believe is a failure by Sainsbury’s to meaningfully consult. We would urge Sainsbury’s to follow the lead of Asda which has introduced new contracts for its workers on a voluntary basis. 

“Sainsbury’s needs to stop threatening loyal hardworking staff with the dole and start engaging more positively with Unite by giving workers the assurances they have been seeking.” 


For further information please contact the Unite press office on 020 3371 2065 or Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.  

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.