The strategic degradation of working conditions: Asda Wal-Mart style

Asda has come under fire from a charity accusing the supermarket group of planning a "strategic assault" on the working conditions of its staff.

War on Want and the GMB general union fear management proposals for a major shake-up in staff operations at the Lutterworth distribution centre in Leicestershire will be rolled out nationwide. They say Asda - owned by the US retail group Wal-Mart - has drawn up a "Chip Away strategy 2005" aimed at reducing costs and increasing productivity at a time of general falling British retail sales.

According to that strategy, outlined in documents shown to The Guardian - the company would like to:

- Remove the right of staff to take industrial disputes to the arbitration service Acas

- Implement the use of "single man loading" for jobs that involve lifting, even though Asda's own risk assessment acknowledges the need for two people to undertake such tasks

- Encourage supervisors to "take the credence out of breaks" by ending rest times early thereby "leading by example"

- Remove sick pay for the first three days of absence

See Asda attacked over employees' rights (Terry Macalister, The Guardian) for more details and the official response from Asda. You can also access the original press release by War on Want here and the report - Asda Walmart: The Alternative Report, here.

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