Sutton Asda workers protest over 'disgraceful' changes to their contracts

The protesters.
The protesters.

Sutton Asda workers armed with flags and vuvuzela stood outside the store  to protest new changes which would leave then forced to work Bank Holidays Mondays and unpaid breaks.

Karen Neijs, from Kirkby, has worked at the Sutton store for 13 years and took park in the protest, along with workers from Mansfield, Long Eaton and Boston, to raise awareness of the "problems" to customers.

Bev and Karen.

Bev and Karen.

The 57-year-old union representative with GMB Union said the new changes to their contracts have left staff stressed and a few, including her, are refusing to sign, which will “leave them without a job”.

She said:“A lot more workers have joined the union since and we have had quite a lot of workers leave. I think what Asda is doing is wrong - people who have worked for Asda are losing benefits they have built up over the years.”

Under the new contracts they will be paid higher wages, but will no longer have long service holidays, be given paid breaks and rota flexibility will be taken away.

She added: “Now if someone works a Monday Asda could move their shift to a Saturday. Customers we have spoken to have been disgusted and didn’t realise this was happening.”

Staff who have not agreed to sign have been given 12-week dismissal notices.

Bev Wagstaff, from Warsop, is a union representative at the Forest Town Asda, where she has worked for 15 years.

She said: “I think it is awful how they have treated everybody. Asda needs to listen to their colleagues freed back. Customers say we look happy, but that is just because we like working with the public.”

One Sutton resident David Beckett, aged 45, after speaking with the protesters said: “It is disgraceful. They work nine to ten hours, how they are being treated is unfair.”

An Asda spokesperson said: “The retail sector is immensely competitive and it is important that we are able to serve our customers in the best way to meet their needs.

“This contract is about increasing the take-home pay of more than 100,000 retail colleagues, through an investment of more than £80m, and ensuring that everyone doing the same job is on the same terms and conditions.

“The overwhelming majority of our colleagues from across all our stores have signed onto the new contracts and while we appreciate that some of our colleagues find the changes more unsettling, we do not want any of them to leave.”