Thursday 5 September 2019 12:01 pm

Asda under pressure as workers stage nationwide protests over new contract

Asda is set to face renewed pressure over the implementation of a controversial new contract as disgruntled employees stage protests outside stores.

GMB Union members will protest at 15 Asda stores across the UK today, including three London branches, over the new flexible working arrangement.

Read more: More than 150 MPs demand Asda backs down over controversial new contract

Workers have raised concerns that the new “Section 6” contract means they will be forced to work bank holidays and weekends and will not be paid for any breaks. 

However, the Walmart-owned supermarket said a new contract is required to create flexibility in the “immensely competitive” retail sector. 

Staff that have not yet signed the contract are on notice and will lose their jobs on 2 November if they do not agree to the new terms. 

The union has alleged that workers who have not signed up to the new contract have also had sick pay withdrawn. An Asda spokesperson said the company’s sick leave policy has not changed.

GMB national officer Gary Carter said: “By imposing this new contract with the contractual changes it brings, Asda are forcing people to choose between looking after their disabled son, elderly mother or vulnerable wife and losing their job – it’s just not right.” 

The protests come after more than 150 MPs signed a petition urging the grocer to rethink the proposals, which will raise the basic rate of pay to £9 per hour but could see some employees lose out due to unpaid breaks and shorter shifts.

Asda insisted the new contract will provide a pay increase for more than 100,000 retail workers.

Read more: Asda under fire over new employee proposals

An Asda spokesperson said: “The overwhelming majority of our colleagues from across all of our stores have signed onto the new contracts and while we appreciate that some of our colleagues find the changes more unsettling, we do not want any of them to leave.

“We understand colleagues have commitments outside of work and will not be asking them to constantly move the time they work, their days or departments.”