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Asda workers protest against worse contract
Elaine Brunskill, Northern Region Socialist Party secretary
Asda workers are being threatened with the sack if they refuse to sign a new contract which will worsen their terms and conditions.
To highlight this pernicious contract, Asda workers belonging to the GMB trade union held a protest outside the company's South Shields store on 5 September. This was one of 15 union protests against the imposition by Asda of the notorious 'Contract 6'. 150 MPs have demanded Asda rescind the new contract.
One of the protesters explained how Asda had used a divide-and-rule tactic. In 2017 they told workers that Contract 6 was voluntary. Some workers signed up as it included an extra £1 an hour more on their wages. However, within months, it was worth less than this as the government increased the minimum wage.
Earlier this year Asda decided they wanted all their workers on the contract by November.
Any implementation of Contract 6 will be a massive blow to these workers. It would give Asda the right to give four weeks' notice that hours or departments can be changed.
No time-and-a-half for working bank holidays. Night shift workers would lose three hours of premium rate pay, which would leave these workers up to £50 worse off over a four-week period. Asda wants all this extra flexibility from workers for just £9 an hour, which is only 79p more than the minimum wage.
Clearly the protesters were getting support, both from shoppers and other Asda workers.
Ultimately if Asda gets away with this contract, it'll come back for more. One of the workers commented that she feared that sick pay would be the next of their conditions under attack.
To fight these attacks workers will need to show they are prepared to take strike action to defend their pay and conditions. And with only three months to go before Asda imposes the contract, the GMB trade union leaders must urgently organise an industrial action ballot.
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About 60 very lively and noisy Asda workers and supporters, GMB members, protested against Contract 6 outside of Wolstanton Asda in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire.
Protesters were pleased to have our National Shop Stewards Network banner next to theirs and we gave them all leaflets advertising the NSSN Rally at the TUC Congress taking place on 8 September.
Socialist Party members assisted Asda workers in giving out about a 1,000 GMB leaflets to shoppers. We then gave out Socialist Party leaflets headed "All workers must support Asda workers in stopping Contract 6" to all the protesters and sold 12 copies of the Socialist.
One of the key GMB reps was even shouting to other protesters that copies of the Socialist were on sale!
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