Britain’s major supermarkets, which are suffering tough trading conditions, are being urged to work with the trade unions to secure the jobs, and terms and conditions of their respective workforces.
Unite, the country’s largest union which has more than 30,000 members in this sector, has written to the bosses of nine supermarket giants in the UK and the Irish Republic for a personal meeting ‘to explore more constructive avenues to secure jobs’.
Unite reps from the distribution and retail sectors are holding a summit in Salford later today (Thursday 14 May) to discuss the current situation and formulate plans for increasing the pressure on the retailers to enter into constructive talks.
Unite national officers for retail distribution Adrian Jones and Matt Draper and national officer for food Julia Long wrote: “Our members have become increasingly concerned over threats to their terms and conditions and job security.
“We have therefore taken the unusual step of writing to all of the major grocery retailers in the country to try to establish a common view on securing a future for all.”
The supermarkets are: Asda, Co-operative Food, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Musgrave Retail Partners (Budgens), Sainsbury, Spar and Tesco, as well as BWG Foods in Ireland.
Supermarkets are going through grim times with profits plummeting, as the major players engage in a heated price war – Tesco’s latest profits before tax were down 68 per cent to £961 million.
The supermarkets in a bid to cut overheads have reduced workforces – Morrison’s employed 128,000 in 2012 and this was down to 119,000 two years later. Defined pension schemes and their benefits are also being severely pruned at Sainsbury’s and Tesco.
The letter continues: “We are very conscious of the trading position many retailers are currently facing but we do not agree that the only way to move forward is by decisions to close stores, attack pensions and lay off workers.
“We have worked with employers for many years across the entire retail sector and hope that the progress that has been made in trying to establish a healthy and constructive relationship will not be lost in the race to protect profits.
“We believe that there may be an alternative way to turn around the fortunes in retail that does not put our members’ jobs and terms and conditions at risk.
“The success of any company when faced with challenges relies as much on the shop floor workers as it does on the executives and money men.”
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble in the Unite press office on 020 3371 2061 or 07768 693940.
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.