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MPs accuse Sainsbury’s of giving staff ultimatum over new pay deals

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Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh led a group of former Sainsbury’s workers and customers to the supermarket’s headquarters in London on Tuesday, to hand over a petition protesting the company’s new pay arrangements.

Almost 124,000 people have signed the petition in support of Sainsbury’s shop floor workers, who say they will see their wages “plummet” due to contract changes introduced by the retailer earlier this year. The company is accused of issuing an ultimatum to staff, who say they have been told to sign the new deals or resign.
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Ms McDonagh, who is MP for Mitcham and Morden, has been campaigning on behalf of a group of 9,000 workers who stand to lose out under the new rules. She was joined by Mohammad Yasin, MP for Bedford, on Tuesday.

A letter written by Ms McDonagh, and signed by 100 MPs, including David Lammy, Frank Field and Rebecca Long-Bailey, was sent to the prime minister in May and called on her to take action over the Sainsbury’s contract changes.

A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said: “We’re investing over £110m and introducing one fair and consistent contract for all Sainsbury’s store colleagues. At present we have colleagues working side by side in stores every day, carrying out the same role but being paid different amounts and that’s not fair. Our plans will see over 120,000 colleagues receive a significant pay rise making Sainsbury’s the highest paying major retailer in the country.

“We appreciate that a small minority of colleagues will not benefit from these changes and that’s why we have protections in place to ensure that no-one will earn less than they do today.”

Last month, a Sainsbury’s worker told The Independent that many of the workers affected by the contract changes were older, leading to increased concern about their ability to find new jobs.

Protests over pay and working hours come while Sainsbury’s is attempting to take over Asda in a £12bn deal that would create the UK’s largest supermarket. The companies said the merger would lead to savings of 10 per cent for consumers, but last week MPs said the tie-up could reduce consumer choice and difficulties for suppliers.

Sainsbury’s boss Mike Coupe was caught singing “We’re in the Money” on camera shortly after the deal was announced.

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Sainsbury’s boss Mike Coupe was caught singing, ‘We’re in the money’ as he prepared to be interviewed about a £12bn merger (ITV News)
On Tuesday, Ms McDonagh said: “Mike Coupe may be ‘in the money’, but 9,000 of his most loyal staff certainly aren’t singing with a pay cut of up to £3,000 per year. Against all their brand values, this utter disloyalty from Sainsbury’s will force their most dedicated staff to work well, for less.”

“It’s high time Sainsbury’s showed some loyalty to their most longstanding staff. Whilst CEO Mike Coupe takes home a bonus of £427,000, he scraps the entire bonus scheme of his shop floor staff. How is that right, just or fair?”

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