Kent transport

Asda warehouse staff vote on industrial action

Asda warehouse staff are voting on industrial action which could see them go on strike. Thousands of Asda workers will vote today after unions rejected a pay deal that would have seen a better offer but cut sick pay. The advisory vote could lead to another ballot on whether to take industrial action.

Bosses had initially suggested a deal to give staff a pay rise at the expense of their entitlement to sick pay – including the first three days of paid sick pay while on sick leave and the last 13 to 26 weeks of sickness benefit. In February, staff voted to reject base rate increases for warehouse and office staff ranging from 4.98% to 6.10%, and from 6.49% to 7.53% for transport.

Asa proposed to increase compensation for warehouses and employees by up to 7.49% and compensation for transport workers by 8.31%

However, he planned to fund the increases by reducing sick pay, which he said would “align this with policies in place elsewhere in the retail sector”.

The changes would cause workers to lose the first three days of pay when absent due to illness and the last 13 to 26 weeks of sick leave, according to GMB.

The ballot is not legally binding but will gauge support for a strike before a formal strike ballot is launched.

Around 8,000 GMB members working in driver, warehouse and office roles have until May 4 to vote.

GMB country manager Nadine Houghton said: “These workers fed the nation during the pandemic when, in 2020, Asda executives handed themselves a 38.8% pay rise.

“It is sad that Asda now wants to use the cost of living crisis to try and pressure these key workers to self-fund their own pay rise via cuts to their sick pay.

“With inflation topping 8% and the UK facing the worst decline in living standards in 50 years, it’s time these workers were given a proper pay rise to help them make ends meet.”

Asda’s sick pay scheme was introduced in 2012 as retail workers were at increased risk of job stress and muscoskeletal problems due to higher pick rates.

Asda Logistics Services Vice President Jon Parry said: “We have made two improved wage offers to GMB which recognize rising inflation and would see office and warehouse wages increased by up to 7, 49%, and transport wages up to 8.91% if accepted.

“We are disappointed that GMB is not making this enhanced offer available to members or giving them the opportunity to vote for them in a ballot.

“We expect them to honor the National Recognition Agreement, signed by both parties in 2012, as it provides an agreed framework for resolving outstanding issues, for example through the ACAS Conciliation Service if necessary. .”