Sainsbury's increases pay again and offers free food to workers

Sainsbury's operates 12 supermarkets and 11 standalone Argos stores in Northern Ireland. Picture by Mal McCann.

SAINSBURY'S has raised pay for staff again and offered free food during shifts as part of a £25 million package to support workers facing cost-of-living pressures.

The supermarket chain, which has 12 stores across Northern Ireland, said £20m of the cash boost will go towards a pay increase.

The group also operates 21 Argos units in the north, ten of them inside Sainsbury's stores.

Around 127,000 hourly paid colleagues will receive a 25p per hour increase from October.

Sainsbury's and Argos retail staff will see minimum pay lift from £10 to £10.25 per hour, with this increasing from £11.05 to £11.30 per hour in London.

It comes after the retail giant increased basic hourly pay for workers from £9.50 to £10 in January.

Sainsbury's has said the latest pay increase means frontline workers will have seen a 7.9 per cent pay rise over the year.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) recorded 10.1 per cent inflation in July.

Sainsbury's added that the latest move will bring total investment into supporting its workers UK wide to around £150m.

The new pay rates will come into effect from October 16 and will not affect the next annual pay review.

The retailer said it will also give workers "access to basic food items during shifts" from the first week of October until the end of December, as well as increasing discounts at Sainsbury's and Argos.

"The free food will ensure that colleagues can have something to eat while they are at work and the longer and deeper discounts will help colleagues plan and manage their budgets through the autumn and in the run up to Christmas," the company said.

It comes a day after Sainsbury's confirmed it would be among major retailers to shut stores on Monday September 19 due to the Queen's funeral.

Simon Roberts, chief executive of Sainsbury's said: "Every day, I am hearing from colleagues who are really feeling the pressures of the rising cost of living.

"That's why we are doing everything we can to help our colleagues as they face rising bills and living costs this autumn by investing £25m into a package of support, including an early pay increase.

"This is the first time we have given two pay rises in the same year."