Britain’s largest union, Unite warned ministers and competition authorities against overlooking the concerns of workers and food producers when weighing up a proposed merger between the supermarket giants Sainsbury’s and Asda.
The warning comes as the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) today (Friday 18 May) confirmed it had started to probe the £12 billion deal with a preliminary invitation to comment before moving to a full-blown investigation. Some experts expect the CMA to order the two companies to dispose of scores of stores as part of its review.
Unite represents thousands of Sainsbury’s workers in stores and logistics as well as the wider supply chain.
Commenting Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland said: “While the interests of the big supermarkets and shoppers will be at the fore in weighing up the planned merger, there is every danger the voice of workers at Sainsbury’s and Asda will be overlooked by the authorities because of UK’s takeover laws.
“Unite is engaging with Sainsbury’s to secure job guarantees, but promises on jobs and stores by Sainsbury’s boss Mike Coupe could end up worthless if the Competition and Markets Authority gives the green light and orders a disposal of stores.
“This proposed merger not only poses major questions about competition, but for food security, as well as jobs in stores, logistics and the wider food supply chain across the UK.
“Competition cannot be the sole determining factor in whether the merger between Sainsbury’s and Asda goes ahead. Government ministers need to ensure that wider considerations are given equal prominence and overhaul the UK’s takeover rules to strengthen the voice of workers and stop short term speculators.”
For further information please contact the Unite press office on 020 3371 2065 or Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.
Notes to editors
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.