The union – which represents thousands of Sainsbury’s workers in stores, logistics and the wider supply chain – feared that the interests of the supermarket’s employees could be overlooked by ministers and competition authorities weighing up the proposed merger.
Commenting on the merger, Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland said there was every danger the voice of workers at Sainsbury’s and Asda would be overlooked by the authorities because of the 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,” said Holland.
‘Major questions about competition’
“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.”
Holland argued that competition should not be the only determining factor in whether the merger went ahead.
She added: “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.”
The CMA investigation of the merger between supermarket giants Asda and Sainsbury’s would be ”off the scale”, according to law firm DWF.
‘Undergone huge changes’
Head of EU and competition Jonathon Branton said: “The grocery market has undergone huge changes since the CMA last investigated it very carefully in 2007.
“It will need to be reassured that the merger won’t fundamentally alter the aggressively competitive market conditions it found in 2007, with the main player constantly trying to beat the prices offered by their competitors.”
The CMA has entered into discussions with Sainsbury’s and Asda over the proposed merger. A formal investigation has yet to be launched.
Meanwhile, the merger could result in the loss of up to 2,500 jobs, according to think-tank New Economics Foundation.