Unite warned ministers and competition authorities against overlooking the concerns of workers and food producers when weighing up a proposed merger between the supermarket giants Sainsbury’s and Asda.
The warning comes as the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) today (May 18) confirmed it had started to probe the £12bn deal with a preliminary invitation to comment before moving to a full-blown investigation. Some experts expect the CMA to order the two companies to dispose of scores of stores as part of its review.
Unite represents thousands of Sainsbury’s workers in stores and logistics as well as the wider supply chain.
“While the interests of the big supermarkets and shoppers will be at the fore in weighing up the planned merger, there is every danger the voice of workers at Sainsbury’s and Asda will be overlooked by the authorities because of UK’s takeover laws,” said Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland.
“Unite is engaging with Sainsbury’s to secure job guarantees, but promises on jobs and stores by Sainsbury’s boss Mike Coupe could end up worthless if the Competition and Markets Authority gives the green light and orders a disposal of stores,” she added.
“This proposed merger not only poses major questions about competition, but for food security, as well as jobs in stores, logistics and the wider food supply chain across the UK.
“Competition cannot be the sole determining factor in whether the merger between Sainsbury’s and Asda goes ahead,” Holland noted. “Government ministers need to ensure that wider considerations are given equal prominence and overhaul the UK’s takeover rules to strengthen the voice of workers and stop short term speculators.”