Demonstration held outside Chesterfield Asda amid concerns for jobs

A demonstration has taken place outside Asda in Chesterfield in support of workers who have been asked to sign controversial new contracts.

Tuesday, 5th November 2019, 10:26 am
The demonstration was held over the weekend.

Hundreds of staff at the supermarket chain risk losing their jobs if they refuse to sign the new work agreements - which include an increase to the hourly wage but end paid breaks, cut bonus pay on most bank holidays and reduce the number of hours eligible for the higher night shift rate.

Despite heavy rain on Saturday, members of Chesterfield Labour Party and Chesterfield Trades Union Council demonstrated their solidarity with the GMB union and Asda's employees outside the store on Whittington Moor.

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Paul Hardy, Labour's trades union liaison officer, told the Derbyshire Times: "Geting the sack just before Christmas, just imagine the impact this will have on hard-working staff.

"It's positively Dickensian and something I don't even think Scrooge would do."

An Asda spokesperson said fewer than 300 people had not agreed to the new contracts.

The spokesperson added: "Following an extensive consultation period, we're pleased that almost 120,000 of our retail colleagues are now working on the same contract, with the same terms and conditions and the same enhanced benefits package, including an increased hourly rate. This contract is about fairness for all our colleagues and moves us in line with our competitors."

In a letter to staff on Friday, Asda chief executive Roger Burnley said: "We do not want anyone to leave because of the new contract and have tried hard throughout this process to address your concerns."

He added: "We're operating in such a challenging market and have to remain competitive in order to secure our success, now and in the future.

"Our new contract gives us the flexibility we need to make sure we can respond to our customers' changing demands and, as you know, all of our competitors have already made this change so we cannot get left behind."

Staff have until Sunday to sign the new agreements.