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From The Socialist newspaper, 14 March 2018

Sainsbury's raise really a cut: fight for 10 with no strings!

Sainsbury's, photo Elliot Brown/CC

Sainsbury's, photo Elliot Brown/CC   (Click to enlarge)

Isai Priya, Usdaw union rep (personal capacity)

Supermarket Sainsbury's announced on 6 March that it will increase the wages of its 130,000 store workers.

Management's headline was that this will make Sainsbury's the highest-paying supermarket and the first to go over 9 an hour.

Sounds good? Well - not quite.

Members lose pay in other areas. The offer includes not just a 1.20 increase to the basic rate - but removal of premium pay for Sundays, paid breaks, and annual bonuses.

There will also be changes to the attendance policy. And the 'deal' says there will be no further increase in the salary until 2020.

The overall package is not at all a wage increase - but rather a pay cut in the long run. Removal of payment for breaks will mean workers lose on average 20 a week, and with added loss of premium pay workers will be worse off.

As general union Unite said, this is a classic "robbing Peter to pay Paul" pay offer. But in this deal there are far more Peters than Pauls.

Unite represents more than 12,000 members working in Sainsbury's. The Socialist Party welcomes the announcement that it will be holding a consultative ballot of members across Britain from the end of March, with a recommendation to reject the 'deal'.


Retail and distribution union Usdaw, the main union in Sainsbury's and with 430,000 members across the sector, should follow Unite and ballot its members with a recommendation to reject.

Usdaw members have shown, through the election of Socialist Party member Amy Murphy as their new president, that they want change. They elected her based on her programme of fighting low pay and zero-hour contracts, and for a 10 an hour minimum wage.

The mood is there among retail workers to fight - but from the right-dominated Usdaw bureaucracy, no clear lead is shown.

Both unions should mobilise their members and call for a no-strings package including a pay rise that reflects the increased cost of living. In London this pay rise should at least match the London Living Wage of 10.20.

We want a real pay rise - and we want it now!

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