Asda staff indicate they are ready to strike over pay

Thousands of Asda workers have indicated they are ready to take strike action in a consultative vote.

The union GMB says it has balloted its 8,000 of its members at the Leeds-headquartered supermarket chain, who are working in driver, warehouse and clerical roles. 95% of those who voted said they were will to take industrial action over what GMB says amounts to a real terms pay cut.

The union says Asda is trying to “force through” a pay deal which would see workers lose sick pay entitlement – including the first three days of paid sick pay in any sickness absence and the last 13 to 26 weeks of sick pay.

But a spokesman for Asda responded: “We have made two improved pay offers which would see warehouse salaries increase to up to £13.89 per hour and transport salaries to up to £16.25 per hour.

“This is a fair, competitive and sustainable offer and we are disappointed it was rejected by the GMB without giving their members the chance to vote on the proposal.”

The sick pay scheme was introduced in 2012 when Asda distribution workers were at increased risk of workplace stress and musco-skeletal issues due to higher pick rates.

GMB will now meet with members to discuss next steps.

Nadine Houghton, GMB national officer, said: “This ballot result show how angry Asda workers are. They’re being asked to swallow a real terms pay cut while Asda’s top brass give themselves a hefty pay rise.

“There’s no way these keyworkers should be forced into self-funding their own pay rise via cuts to their sick pay.”

The Asda spokesman added: “It is normal during the course of negotiations to seek ways to help fund additional investment in pay and the offer we have made both increases the rate of pay for workers and retains a sickness pay and policy that is in line with the market.

“Any talk of industrial action is premature as there is an agreed framework in place including independent conciliation and arbitration at ACAS if necessary, as part of our longstanding, agreed dispute resolution process.”