Sunday, January 25, 2009

Supermarket weep

Years ago I worked for ASDA, at the flagship store in Boldon, when it was still part of Associated Dairies. Staff were part of the organisation, sharing in its success with annual dividend bonus payments. The union recognised by ASDA, the GMB, was generally respected and staff felt safe in their jobs.

Shortly after I left ASDA however, things changed. There was a management cull, where all middle managers had to reapply for their jobs. Those who had a history of sick leave, were in disciplinary measures, or were considered to be difficult could say goodbye to their jobs. The atmosphere had changed and the feeling of family and mutual respect had gone.

Friday night I was with some ASDA employees from the current South Shields store who were worried that they weren't guaranteed a job at the new Coronation Street store opening in the summer; victims of the same technique used all those years ago.

South Tyneside Council has been very close to ASDA. The Boldon store has been permitted to expand to the point that it's the company's biggest store. The new store in Coronation Street is the Council's retail jewel in the crown, with a lot of hopes resting on the store's success. And political reputations.

Forcing employees to reapply for their jobs is unjust. Don't expect the Council to worry about this - as long as councillors can share in the glory and get their mugs in the Gazette they're unlikely to demand that ASDA respect their employees and guarantee each of them their jobs in the new store.

No comments: