Walmart’s Leeds-based subsidiary Asda on Friday has given its shop floor workers more time to sign new employment contracts or face dismissal in a dispute over changes intended by the supermarket group to boost productivity, Reuters reported.
Asda has extended its deadline for workers to sign until November 10.
The GMB union has called the contracts “punishing” and “draconian.”
Asda chief executive Roger Burnley has written to staff, saying almost 120,000 employees had signed up to the more flexible contract and fewer than 1,000 had not, Reuters reported.
“On Saturday, once the closing date has passed, we will write to them again, offering them the opportunity to sign up because we really don’t want any colleague to make a decision to leave and then regret it,” he said.
A spokesman for Asda said any worker who has not signed the contract but turns up for work on Sunday or Monday will be asked again to sign.
Asda’s new standardised contracts increase the base rate of pay for retail workers to £9 per hour from November 3 and to £9.18 from April 1 2020, plus premiums, while maintaining benefits including an annual bonus, share save scheme and staff discount.
The new contracts also remove paid breaks and require employees to work across departments and on some bank holidays.
Gary Carter, GMB National Officer, said: “This eleventh hour delay kicks the can down the road for Asda workers who are unable to sign this punishing new contract.
“They now face the prospect of the sack even closer to Christmas.
“Asda are clearly feeling the heat from the opposition to their behaviour but this move does not change the brutal reality facing long-serving, dedicated staff.
“Thousands of Asda workers have been forced into signing this new contract because they can’t afford to lose their jobs, least of all in the run up to Christmas.
“But a seven day delay won’t change the fact that people — often women workers with kids, caring responsibilities or other part-time jobs — simply can’t sign up to these new terms.
“We’re talking about people who have worked at Asda for decades – this is not how any employer should treat loyal, hardworking people.
“Asda should get back round the table to negotiate and offer a better deal to its workers.”