The Business and Trade Committee is demanding Asda provide more evidence over it’s “unclear” fire-and-rehire strategy, after some 7,000 workers were threatened with the practice back in May.
Chair of the committee, Darren Jones, is hauling the ‘Big Four’ grocer back in front of MPs after it said it was “concerned about apparent discrepancies” between evidence it gave last week on fuel pricing and a Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) market study published this week.
Asda’s chief commercial officer, Kris Comerford was questioned by MPs last Tuesday over fuel hikes, where Comerford denied any signs of profiteering from the cost of living criss.
Yesterday, the watchdog slapped Asda with two £30,000 fines over failing to provide information for its fuel pricing probes.
Its report found that both Asda alongside rival Morrisons had “each made the decision to target higher margins” on fuel sales last year, which led to drivers paying an extra 6p per litre for fuel in 2022.
Comerford was also quizzed on whether or not Asda were still using fire-and-rehire tactics – when an employer fires an employee and offers them a new, potentially less favourable contract – to which he responded these were “not something that Asda employs”.
However, the committee argued that the letters from Asda and the GMB union published today make the accuracy of this statement unclear.
The union told the committee that Asda had issued the threat of using fire and rehire– which Asda characterised as ‘dismiss and reengage’ – as ‘a last resort’ in its own letter.
This news comes after the revelation in May that Asda reportedly threatened some 7,000 workers of being fired and rehired if they did not accept its 60p pay cut.
In a letter published today, commenting on the the committee meeting, Asda said: “We have been clear all along in both the business case and any public statements that we are in consultation with colleague representatives and our focus and intention is on reaching an agreement.
“No final decision has been taken on the proposal and we are committed to a fair, transparent and meaningful consultation on the proposed changes.”
Mohsin Issa, co-owner of Asda said: “We have engaged fulsomely and openly with the Business and Trade Select Committee on grocery and fuel price inflation. We are disappointed to hear that the committee feels there are discrepancies in our evidence and have provided them with a detailed response to their letter requesting a further interview.
“Our consultation on legacy payments in a small number of stores in the Southeast is ongoing and our objective remains to reach a compensatory payment for colleagues impacted. This remains a live consultation and we would not comment further in order to not prejudice its outcome. On fuel, we remain resolute that our strategy is to offer the best value for customers at the pumps – something that the CMA’s fuel market study confirms we continue to be.
He added: “Whilst we cannot answer questions about how the market operates as a whole, I am happy to use time that had been previously agreed for me to meet with Mr Jones directly for an open discussion, where I will be happy to reaffirm our strategy and commitments. Asda is, and will remain, a consumer champion and a respectful employer of thousands of valued colleagues.”
They will be questioned by parliament again on 19 July.