Asda is slashing 1,500 grocery delivery drivers’ hourly pay by more than 12% despite the cost of living crisis.
The UK’s third largest supermarket chain is ending a £1.50-an-hour premium introduced in the summer to help attract and retain drivers delivering groceries to homes from some London stores, including Charlton, Wembley and Colindale, as well as outlets in Bristol and the south coast.
The premium to drivers’ £10.10 an hour rate, which began in July, had been promised until at least Christmas, but is being withdrawn on 21 October.
Asda said it had introduced the higher rate for drivers in those areas because they were experiencing “higher levels of job market challenge than average”. An Asda spokesperson said it had introduced the extra payments in July as a trial and was ending them as “it has not delivered the desired results”.
Nadine Houghton, national officer of the GMB union, which represents many Asda delivery drivers, said: “Asda’s attempt to address its driver shortage was a sticking plaster that was never going to work. Asda needs to address the fundamental issue: driver pay is much lower than other retailers – as is their shop-floor pay.
“A temporary or one-off payment was never going to go far enough and entice drivers at a time when they are in high demand. Drivers need to be paid competitive rates for the job or they will continue to find work elsewhere.”
The cut comes as supermarkets and other retailers are seeing a drop-off in online orders as consumers have resumed their habit of visiting shops after the end of pandemic lockdown restrictions.
It emerged recently that some Asda employees were having to skip household bill payments, take out loans, and even use food banks to get through the month due to regular payroll errors that have seen some underpaid by £500 or more. Asda apologised at the time and said it was taking action to ensure it never happened again.
The supermarket is under pressure to increase pay for workers in its stores after rivals including Tesco, Aldi and Lidl all raised pay for a second time this year in response to the cost of living crisis.
Asda raised pay to £10.10 an hour in July after a campaign by the GMB union which singled out the supermarket as the lowest payer among the big chains. It has since dropped back to that spot after Morrisons raised pay this month from £10 an hour to £10.20 and Sainsbury’s raised its hourly rate to £10.25.
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Tesco will pay £10.30 an hour from next month. Lidl pays £10.90, while Aldi pays £10.50 an hour – but is the only one to offer paid breaks, putting its package for a daily shift almost on a par with its German rival’s.