Hawick workers take pay fight to Sainsbury’s AGM

UNION leaders challenged Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King yesterday to dish out a pay rise for the company’s workers in the Borders, writes Kenny Paterson.

Unite, which looks after up to 30 staff at Sainsbury’s Hawick store, protested outside the annual general meeting of the UK’s third largest supermarket in London.

The union is looking for a 6.2 per cent wage increase this year for Sainsbury’s 12,000 Scottish members, while staff at Selkirk and Peebles stores represented by Usdaw are seeking a similar deal.

Iain MacDonald, a Unite Scotland organiser, dressed as Braveheart in a theme entitled “Justin King – Nae Heart” at the AGM.

He said: “The workers have had no decent pay rises in a number of years.

“The last one was in 2005/2006 when 5.5 per cent was agreed but since then it has been meagre pay increases of either 1.8 per cent or 2 per cent.

“Justin King then decided to put a bar on band three workers receiving a pay rise for the next five years.”

Unite’s pay demands have so far been knocked back, with fingers pointed at Mr King wage packet of £3.2m last year.

“Sainsbury’s members of Unite are outraged by Justin King’s remuneration,” claimed Mr MacDonald.

He added: “At the other end of the company, our members are offered a two per cent bonus which equates to £400 per year.

“Those at the top of the tree are seeing huge pay rises while those working in the Borders are seeing nothing.”

If no agreement can be reached, Mr MacDonald said more campaigning rather than strikes would be the next course of action.

He said: “We are not talking about industrial action – nobody is in a position to do that.

“But the last decent pay rise was a number of years ago and the pressure will be kept up on Sainsbury’s.”

A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said an announcement on any pay rise for staff would be made next month.

The spokesperson added: “The views and ideas of colleagues are represented to us through our colleague councils.

“We have a good relationship with both Usdaw and Unite as the recognised trade unions in our business and we are committed to these relationships and to developing them further.

“We meet with representatives of our colleague councils and unions to discuss a variety of colleague-related issues, including pay and reward.”

But the spokesman stressed “We do not negotiate pay or other terms and conditions with either trade union in our retail environment.”