Prime Minister Theresa May has been urged to take action over an “array of deplorable decisions” that MPs say will see some Sainsbury’s staff lose up to £3,000 a year.
A letter, written by Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh and signed by 100 MPs including Frank Field, David Lammy and shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey, said the supermarket’s plans to change the contracts of around 130,000 staff will hit long-serving staff the hardest.
National living wage
Sainsbury’s plans to increase shop floor staff’s hourly wages from £8 to £9.20 an hour until at least March 2020, when pay will be reviewed again. Employees in London will be paid £9.80 an hour.
The retailer’s national rate is almost 60p more than the rate the national living wage is expected to rise to in April 2020 – £8.62.
However, staff would no longer get paid breaks or premium pay for Sunday shifts. Premium rates for night shifts will also be restricted to between midnight and 5am. Night workers are currently paid extra for their entire shift.
The MPs claimed that staff at Argos, which the supermarket bought in 2016, would see their basic pay remain behind that of their Sainsbury’s colleagues, despite many being based at the same store.
Bonuses for shop floor staff will also be scrapped.
According to the Independent, the MPs’ letter reads: “We are completely dismayed that a company of Sainsbury’s reputation would use an increase in basic pay as a smokescreen for a whole array of deplorable decisions that will hit hardest their most dedicated, loyal and long-term staff.
“Under the proposed changes, all employees will lose their paid breaks, there will be widespread cuts to premium pay including a shortening of night-shift premium hours and a scrapping of Sunday premium pay, and shop floor staff will no longer receive bonuses.
“However, the scrapping of the bonus scheme will not affect the CEO, Mike Coupe, or his fellow management team.”
Sainsbury’s retail and operations director Simon Roberts said the letter did not reflect how the majority of employees felt about the proposed changes.
“We have conducted meaningful consultation with around 100 colleague representatives and have made a number of changes to our original proposals based on their feedback.
“It is extremely disappointing that our plans to make Sainsbury’s colleagues the best-paid in retail are being deliberately misrepresented to such a degree and we would be happy to set the record straight,” he said.
When it announced the pay review in March, Sainsbury’s said it would improve “consistency and fairness across all stores, regardless of age or length of service”. It also planned to reduce the number of roles from 22 to five.
The GMB union said last month that hundreds of thousands of jobs could be at risk if the proposed merger of Sainsbury’s and Asda went ahead.