Sainsbury's new training regime 'could mean 200 job losses' says Unite
RETAIL giant Sainsbury's is rejecting union claims that more than 200 jobs will be lost at its 13 Northern Ireland stores as part of a group restructuring.
Sainsbury's is creating a new management role for training staff which the Unite union says will lead to reduce compulsory redundancies and the redeployment of staff.
The company said: "We've introduced new learning and development programmes to ensure our colleagues can continue to deliver the very best service to our customers.
"Following this we're now creating a new management role that will provide enhanced training support across a number of stores. This position will replace the existing store trainer role.
"We're conducting a consultation process with all affected colleagues, who will have the opportunity to apply for the new, senior roles.
"We currently employ 870 store trainers. We're now creating around 280 new learning and development manager positions and all affected colleagues will have the opportunity to apply for these more senior roles. We will also look to redeploy affected colleagues where possible."
But Sean Smyth of the Unite union in Northern Ireland, said: “We are deeply disappointed by proposals published by Sainsbury’s which threaten to reduce its employment cohort by 2,500 across the UK including a net reduction of 600 store trainers and 1,900 night shift positions.
"We estimate the potential impact in Northern Ireland to be more than 200 positions affecting approximately 120 members of Unite.
“While these proposals will impact on all Sainsbury’s stores, we are most concerned about the potential impact on the workforce in stores in Holywood, West Belfast, Strand Road and Dungannon.
“These proposals come as part of a cost-cutting exercise, in which management propose to rationalise employment in the night shift and store trainers across all stores.
“This is not the first time that this proposal has been raised by management and follows on from a pilot initiative. While we understand and support the need to deliver efficiencies and to improve the quality of service to customers we are concerned about the impact of these proposals on our members.
"We will continue to work collaboratively with management to minimise the numbers who are made redundant as a result of these changes,” Mr Smyth said.
On a pro-rate basis, Sainsbury's operates 13 stores in Northern Ireland, among its total portfolio of 600 outlets, so the impact of the job losses may not be as high as the 200 Unite is predicting.