Over the weekend news was circulating about talks between Asda and Sainsbury’s supermarkets. Today it has been confirmed that the two retail giants plan to pool resources and become bigger than Tesco.
With over 350,000 employees between them and most of those on the shop floor, those of us with the interests of workers at heart are taking a closer look.
This is potentially another ‘job killer’ for Thanet.
A merger usually impacts staff negatively as both companies will try to protect shareholder value, putting those needs above staff and consumers. I already know from my work supporting local workers with employment issues that many staff in and around Thanet are on appalling exploitative zero hour contracts, short term contracts and that bullying is often present (in a broad array of circumstances).
Asda is owned by the US giant Wal-Mart, whilst over 20 percent of Sainsbury’s is owned by Qatar Investments. The press release talks of creating savings for the customer but this is about cutting costs and making money for big business and the investors. Experts are already talking of 75 stores being disposed of as a result of the expected competition inquiry.
Naturally, workers at the stores in Sainsbury’s Westwood Cross, Asda Ramsgate and Asda Broadstairs will have questions and possible worries at this time. The trade unions, GMB, Unite and USDAW will be there to protect their members.
Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary, said: “Our first priority is to safeguard the job of every single Asda member, both in stores and in distribution. We are demanding an urgent meeting with Asda to get the answers and assurances our members need and deserve.”
Joe Clarke, National Officer for Sainsbury’s at Unite told Sky News that staff were in “utter disarray” and “absolutely shocked”. He added that Unite was asking for “senior level discussions” with both companies “immediately”.
If you, your friends and family are affected by this merger, the trade union should be the first port of call for members. However, please don’t hesitate to contact me for support and advice, if necessary. I have three decades of experience at a local union level up to national level. I will do my best to help!
I shall be writing to both companies to ask them to do their utmost to protect jobs in Thanet.