Asda distribution workers enter consultative vote over sick pay

Thousands of Asda distribution workers have begun a consultative vote on industrial action on 6 April over proposed cuts to their sick pay and a real terms pay cut, GMB Union has revealed.

According to the union, the Big 4 grocer’s bosses are “trying to force through a pay deal would see loyal workers lose sick pay entitlement”.

This would include the first three days of paid sick pay during any sickness absence and the last 13 to 26 weeks of sick pay.

READ MORE: ‘Why won’t they pay workers properly?’ GMB union slams Asda boss

The sick pay scheme was first introduced in 2012 to support distribution workers who faced higher risks of workplace stress and musco-skeletal issues due to higher pick rates.

The ballot with nearly 8,000 GMB members across driver, warehouse and clerical roles will end on 4 May.

The move comes as Oxfam named Asda as the worst supermarket in terms of workers’ rights, scoring 9 out of 100 overall.

GMB have also criticised the retailer for thinking “poverty pay in Asda stores” were “fair” after Asda chairman Lord Stuart Rose slammed the government for its cost of living response.

“These workers kept the nation fed during the pandemic when, in 2020, Asda’s executives awarded themselves a 38.8 per cent pay increase,” GMB national officer Nadine Houghton said.

“It’s sad that Asda now want to use the cost-of-living crisis to try to pressure these key workers into self-funding their own pay increase via cuts to their sick pay.”

Houghton added: “With inflation soaring above 8 per cent and the UK facing the worst drop in living standards in fifty years, it’s time these workers need a proper pay rise to help them make ends meet.”

However, Asda clarified that in order to fund the proposed increase in hourly rates for all ALS colleagues it has proposed changes to its sickness policy.

The supermarket has asserted that the cutting sick pay would bring it in line with other retailers in the industry.

“We have made two improved pay offers to the GMB that recognise rising inflation and would see clerical and warehouse salaries increase by up to 7.49%, and transport salaries by up to 8.91% if accepted,” Asda Logistics Services vice president Jon Parry said.

“We are disappointed the GMB will not put this enhanced offer to members or give them the opportunity to vote on them in a ballot.”

Parry added: “We expect them to honour the National Recognition Agreement, signed by both parties in 2012, as this provides an agreed framework to resolve outstanding matters, such as through the conciliation service ACAS if required.”

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