Major retailers pressed to secure shop floor jobs

By Nicholas Robinson

- Last updated on GMT

Morrisons announced it would create 5,000 in-store roles
Morrisons announced it would create 5,000 in-store roles

Related tags Wal-mart Supermarket Asda

Unite the union has pressed the UK’s biggest retailers to secure shop floor jobs, following a spate of major redundancies in response to mounting pressure from the discounters Aldi and Lidl.

The union, which has 30,000 members working in supermarkets, sent a letter to the bosses of Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsbury, Asda and five other retailers, calling for a meeting to discuss job security.

Unite’s national officers for retail distribution Adrian Jones and Matt Draper, along with 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.”

Profits among the majority of the big four retailers had plummeted as a result of the heated price war, which had already cost many jobs, they said.

Cut its workforce

Morrisons, which employed 128,000 staff in 2012, had cut its workforce to 119,000 in 2014, according to Unite.

Tesco’s latest profits before tax fell by 68% to £961M in the past financial year and Sainsbury had “pruned” ​its pension and benefits schemes, it added.

“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,” ​they said.

“The success of any company faced with challenges relies as much on the shop floor workers as it does on the executives and money men.”

Who’s on Unite’s mailing list?

  • Tesco
  • Morrisons
  • Sainsbury
  • Asda
  • Co-operative Food
  • Marks & Spencer
  • Musgrave Retail Partners
  • Spar
  • BWG Foods (Ireland)

Sainsbury, which posted its first loss of £72M in 10 years this month, announced 800 job cuts across some of its stores to save £500M​. A further 500 job losses were announced at the retailer’s store support centres in London, Manchester and Coventry at the start of the year.

In February, Tesco remained tight-lipped on media reports it was planning to cut up to 10,000 jobs​ in a bid to revise its flagging fortunes.

Plans to cut 2,600 jobs

Last year, Morrisons revealed plans to cut 2,600 jobs​ in a store management restructure.

However, last month, Morrisons’ new boss David Potts announced he would axe 700 roles​ at the supermarket’s Bradford head office, while creating more than 5,000 in-store roles.

Meanwhile, discounters Aldi​ and Lidl announced 500​ jobs apiece within days of each other in March.

The German discounters each planned to build a new distribution centre as part of their UK expansion plans.

Morrisons and Tesco refused to comment on Unite the union's letter.

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