Asda has rejected a last-minute request from trade unions to remove the threat of dismal for thousands of staff if they fail to sign a compulsory contract by the end of next week.
The GMB union has predicted that up to 12,000 of the more than 100,000 employee affected could lose their jobs because they can’t agree to the terms of the new deal.
The new compulsory contracts, known as “contract 6”, require greater flexibility from staff.
A spokesperson for Asda said the estimate from GMB was “unsubstantiated speculation” and that the “overwhelming majority” of workers had signed.
They said the deal was in the best interests of employees and customers, but would not confirm how many are yet to sign.
The UK supermarket said the contracts are a necessary response to competition in the supermarket sector and will see 95 per cent of those affected take home an increased salary.
Unions argue the dispute is part of an increasingly difficult workplace environments, where employers squeeze their staff’s terms and conditions ever harder.
The so-called contract 6 was introduced in 2017 as a voluntary option but has now been made compulsory.
Staff that have refused to sign were put on a 12-week notice period, due to expire next weekend, with employees aware that if they do not sign they will be let go.
The new contract will require staff to work any shifts demanded by managers and five of eight bank holidays.
Night shifts, where employees receive additional pay, will be cut from 10pm to 6am down to midnight to 5am.
In exchange, staff will receive a 79p-per-hour pay rise, taking the basic rate to £9 an hour, in line with the national living wage target for next April.
A spokesman for Asda said: “Throughout the consultation process on these changes we have taken colleagues concerns and feedback from representatives – including the GMB – on board and have been clear that we understand our colleagues have responsibilities outside of work and we will always help them balance these with their work life.
“We have been clear that we don’t want any of our colleagues to leave us and whilst the vast majority of colleagues have chosen to sign the new contract, we continue to have conversations with those who have chosen not to, to try and understand their concerns.
“It is vital that we make sure we are prepared to adapt to the demands of our market. Change is never easy, but we are determined that Asda remains a sustainable business for its customers and colleagues – now and in the future.”