Sainsbury's and Argos workers to get pay rise and third Covid bonus

Sarah Butler
·2-min read
Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Reuters
Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Reuters

Sainsbury’s and Argos workers are to receive a third pandemic bonus and a pay increase of more than 2% to match the real living wage outside London, as supermarket sales continue to boom during the high street lockdown.

Minimum hourly pay for Argos workers outside London will rise from £9.00 to £9.50 from March, and from £9.30 to £9.50 for Sainsbury’s staff. Pay for Sainsbury’s staff in central London will rise from £9.90 to £10.10, still short of the independently calculated living wage of £10.85.

Sainsbury’s, which has owned Argos since 2016, said staff working in stores, call centres and its delivery network would also be given a bonus worth 3% of pay, or about £530 for a full-time worker, after two bonus payments last year.

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The bonuses come after a demanding year for supermarket staff, with stores much busier than usual because cafes, restaurants and many takeaways have been closed.

Clodagh Moriarty, the retail and digital director at Sainsbury’s, said: “In the last 12 months our frontline colleagues have shown outstanding commitment to our customers. In recognition of everything they have achieved, we are giving them a pay rise, plus an additional one-off payment.”

Unions, however, said they were disappointed. The shop workers union Usdaw, which represents about 40,000 Sainsbury’s and Argos workers, said the offer fell short of the the £10 an hour that Morrisons had already agreed to pay staff outside London from April.

Dave Gill, Usdaw’s national officer, said the bonus would affect the payment of universal credit and working tax credits that many workers relied on, and that the company should instead have given staff “the proper pay rise they deserve”.

He said: “Over the last year, Sainsbury’s staff have worked throughout the pandemic to keep the nation fed, facing increased abuse from customers and worrying about catching Covid-19. As key workers delivering an essential service, they deserve much better than the additional 20p an hour on offer, particularly after only receiving a 1.3% increase last year.

“The deal offers a higher increase for Argos workers of around 6%, which is welcome, but they also deserve better.”

Unite, which represents 9,000 Sainsbury’s staff, said Morrisons had put its rival to shame.

The union’s national officer, Bev Clarkson, described the pay rise as pathetic. “Over the last year, Sainsbury’s staff have risked their health to keep the nation fed. They kept Sainsbury’s coffers full as they did so, even as other businesses were going to the wall,” she said.

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