On August 14, thousands of workers and their supporters carried out a protest march to the head office of the supermarket giant Asda in Leeds, UK, against the imposition of a new contract. The protest was called by the GMB union in the wake of the announcement made by Asda’s parent company, Walmart, for job restructuring. Asda is reportedly all set to implement “contract 6”, a punitive new contract that would rip up the workers’ terms and conditions. It would introduce unpaid breaks and force people to work on weekends and bank holidays.
The union said that Asda bosses are forcing workers to choose between caring for their families or losing their jobs in the run up to Christmas. The supermarket giant has threatened its employees to sign the so-called “flexible” contract 6, failing which they will be sacked on November 2.
According to a report by the Socialist Worker, Asda announced last week that 200 workers at its head office in Leeds are at risk of being laid off. It followed this up with the news that it would “relocate” or “re-deploy” a possible 5,000 workers and axe some 1,000 jobs. A previous “restructure” last year saw more than 4,000 jobs affected.
Earlier, in 2016, Walmart had announced the closure of 269 stores in the US and South America. It had resulted in the loss of around 16,000 jobs. The unions had widely criticized Walmart’s decision back then as the company had earned a gross profit worth £80 billion (USD 97 billion) in 2015.