By Charlie Kimber
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Sainsbury’s bosses under pressure over plans to slash wages

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Issue 2605
The bonus cut at the supermarket giant doesnt touch boss Mike Coupe of his management team
The bonus cut at the supermarket giant doesn’t touch boss Mike Coupe of his management team (Pic: Flickr/Elliott Brown)

Pressure is growing on supermarket bosses and their Tory backers as Sainsbury’s prepares to slash workers’ pay.

Sainsbury’s is scrapping paid breaks and premium pay on Sunday for thousands of staff.

The supermarket is increasing basic pay—although only to £9.20 an hour outside of London and £9.80 in London. But overall some 13,000 workers will lose around £3,000 a year as a result of the changes.

“I am on a 30-hour contract,” said Sainsbury’s worker Janet. “At the moment when I work Sundays I get about £310 a week. “After these changes I will be on £40 a week less.

“That’s the difference between surviving and going under for me and my children. I just don’t know how I will manage.” 

Sainsbury’s chief executive Mike Coupe has said that wages will be protected for 18 months, but there’s no guarantee beyond that.

Coupe became famous at the start of this month. He started trotting out the words to “We’re in the Money” while waiting for an interview on a proposed £12 billion merger deal with Asda.

Coupe’s basic salary is £929,000 a year. The share price rise after news of the merger broke saw the value of his one million shares soar by nearly £500,000.


A group of around 100 MPs has written to Theresa May. “We are completely dismayed that Sainsbury’s would use an increase in basic pay as a smokescreen for a whole array of deplorable decisions,” they said.

“Under the proposed changes, all employees will lose their paid breaks. There will be widespread cuts to premium pay including a shortening of nightshift premium hours and a scrapping of Sunday premium pay.

“And shop floor staff will no longer receive bonuses.

“However, the scrapping of the bonus scheme will not affect Mike Coupe, or his fellow management team.”

In Prime Minister’s Questions last week, May was asked whether she saw the contract changes as an “insult”.

Tesco strikers: ‘We can move 30 tonnes during a shift, but we don’t even get £10 an hour’
Tesco strikers: ‘We can move 30 tonnes during a shift, but we don’t even get £10 an hour’
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May said, “These are commercial decisions that are taken by the employer and by Sainsbury’s”.

Joanne McGuinness, Usdaw shop workers’ union national officer, said, “Usdaw has long been making the case for the real living wage and beyond. So this deal takes Sainsbury’s staff 45p per hour above that £8.75 rate.

“While this is welcome news for Usdaw members we will be looking closely at the whole deal, as we understand the company are proposing some contractual changes. Consolidating pay can benefit staff, but we want to check the effects on all individual workers.”

But the Unite union, which has 12,000 members in Sainsbury’s, said the wage proposals were “classic robbing Peter to pay Paul”.

It’s time for action to win wage rises for all. 

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