Asda gives workers more time to sign new contracts before facing the sack
Asda on Friday gave shop floor workers more time to sign new employment contracts or face dismissal in a bitter dispute over changes to contracts.
As the Saturday deadline for signing approached, Asda said the workers would have a seven-day “cooling off period” to change their minds before losing their jobs.
Chief Executive Roger Burnley wrote to staff, saying almost 120,000 employees had signed up to the more flexible contract and fewer than 1,000 had not.
“On Saturday, once the closing date has passed, we will write to them again, offering them the opportunity to sign up because we really don’t want any colleague to make a decision to leave and then regret it,” he said.
A spokesman for Asda said any worker who has not signed the contract but turns up for work on Sunday or Monday will be asked again to sign.
The GMB union said many staff felt they could not sign the “inflexible” terms because of disruption to domestic life, while the impact would fall heavily on female employees.
Thousands of Asda workers told to sign “punitive” new contracts or face the sack
Workers at the grocer will be protesting throughout the UK on Saturday the 1st of November over new contracts that will see their holiday allowances cut and paid breaks scrapped
Documents reveal the supermarket giant will terminate the employment of anyone who turns down the revised terms.
One staff member has told how she will lose eight days’ annual leave and be left £500 a year worse off.
Documents seen by the reveal the American-owned supermarket giant will terminate the employment of anyone who turns down the revised terms.
Workers give their own stories.
“If I sign it, it will affect me because they can move me into any department,” Ms Sutton, 76, who has worked for Asda for 45 years, told the Today programme.
“They can move me on to the shop floor, carrying heavy boxes, filling the shelves.”
“They could change my hours any time from five in the morning to 12 at night.”
“I think at my age, why would I be able to start going to different departments and doing different jobs?”
There are plenty of Asda workers who are similarly worried, she says, but are feeling pressured into agreeing the new terms.
“I think the company should be thoroughly, thoroughly ashamed of themselves. It’s caused a hell of a lot of stress for people.”
“They are having to sign out of desperation because they are terrified of losing their jobs.”
Under the changes, paid breaks will be scrapped, working bank holidays will become compulsory – although festive holidays will be voluntary and paid at double time – and there will be changes to night shift payments.
Neil Derrick, GMB regional officer for Yorkshire and North Derbyshire, said staff would also be forced to attend work at shorter notice, disrupting the life of carers or people doing the school run.
Leeds-based Asda is increasing hourly pay rates. However, Mr Derrick said it was not the money that mattered for many staff, but the inflexibility of the new working patterns.
“Many staff cannot sign because of upheaval to their domestic life. Others have signed just to get them through Christmas or until they can find new jobs,” he said.
“I’ve not met anyone who thinks they will be better off in terms of working life. There will be a disproportionate impact on women.”
Mr Derrick said the union would support sacked employees in any legal battle against Asda. Labour’s leader Jeremy Corbyn has said he “stands in solidarity” with Asda workers.
Taxpayers spend £11bn to top up low wages paid by UK companies
Research published by Citizens UK found that companies in the UK are paying their workers so little that the taxpayer has to top up wages to the tune of £11bn a year. The four big supermarkets (Tesco, Asda, Sainsburys and Morrisons) alone are costing just under £1bn a year in tax credits and extra benefits payments.
This is a direct transfer from the rest of society to some of the largest businesses in the country. To put the figure in perspective, the total cost of benefit fraud last year was just £1bn. Corporate scrounging costs 11 times that.
Worse, this is a direct subsidy for poverty pay. If supermarkets and other low-paying employers know they can secure work even at derisory wages, since pay will be topped up by the state, they have no incentive to offer higher wages.
None of this makes sense. We are all, in effect, paying a huge sum of money so that we can continue to underpay the 22% of workers who are earning below the Living Wage – the level at which it is possible to live without government subsidies. The only possible beneficiaries are business owners.
Walmart not only indirectly steals money from economies by not paying fair share of tax
Research published by Citizens UK found that companies in the UK don’t pay staff enough and therefore forcing them to rely on government assistance. ASDA, as well as other big supermarkets (Tesco, Sainsburys and Morrisons) are costing the tax payer just under £1,000,000,000 a year in tax credits paid to top-up criminally low salaries. Meanwhile Asda workers ‘forced to sign’ new contracts or ‘face the sack’
Britain is an increasingly unequal society. Inequality here has risen more rapidly than in any other major economy over the last three decades. Piecemeal adaptations in the benefits system have attempted to cope with this. One of the larger measures was the introduction of tax credits by Labour after its election in 1997, intended to lift the low-paid out of poverty.
However, the labour market has become increasingly polarised as manufacturing employment has shrunk. Manufacturing has traditionally been better able to provide moderately well-paid, reasonably secure work. Its replacement by services employment (now over 80% of the workforce) has meant a “hollowing out” of the labour market. A few at the top do very well, but growing numbers are pushed into low-paid, insecure work. This tendency has accelerated since the crash, with record numbers on zero hours contracts, for example.
Asda parent company Walmart is the world’s largest corporation. It truly is the poster child for corporate America and boasts an annual revenue of $482,000,000,000.
What people are often not aware of, is that Walmart is stripping capital out of countries where it was earned and laundering it through a complex web of subsidiary companies in tax havens around the world.
Currently, it is estimated that there is upwards of $76,000,000,000 hidden in these tax havens. This corporate behaviour is seldom seen in retail, but due to Walmart’s global reach, they have been able to exploit the same tax avoidance schemes normally reserved for Banks. This allows Walmart to shift profits offshore through unfathomably convoluted methods.
Walmart hid $76bn of assets in tax havens across the world, including $64.2bn managed by 22 different subsidiaries in Luxembourg, where Walmart has no stores, according to a study published on Wednesday.
The study, published by campaign group Americans for Tax Fairness and funded by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, alleged that Walmart has “kept its tax haven subsidiaries secretive by burying mention of their existence”. Walmart denied the claims.
The authors claimed Walmart’s global empire keeps billions of dollars of assets away from the prying eyes of the taxman via a network of shell companies in Luxembourg, the Netherlands and a host of Caribbean countries known for their low taxes.
Subsidiary companies established to avoid taxation
In 1999, Asda was bought by Walmart for £6.7 billion for it to become one of many subsidiaries of the giant multinational company. Read more.
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