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Pay rise and staff bonus announced for Sainsbury's and Argos staff

Sainsbury's operates 13 supermarkets and 12 standalone Argos outlets in the north. Picture by Owen Humphreys/PA 
Simon Neville, PA

SAINSBURY’S will increase salaries for staff at its supermarkets and Argos stores and pay a bonus to frontline workers - the third since the pandemic started, the retailer said.

Sainsbury's staff currently receive £9.30 an hour and Argos workers get £9 an hour, but this will rise to £9.50 from March.

Staff at central London stores will see their hourly pay rise to £10.10.

A three per cent annual bonus will also be paid out to staff, meaning a full-time worker will take home an extra £530.

The announcement comes after Lidl announced a £200 bonus for 23,000 UK workers, Aldi revealed wages will rise to a minimum of £9.55 an hour and Morrisons said workers at its stores will take home at least £10 an hour from April.

Supermarkets have been one of the biggest winners during the global pandemic, remaining open throughout and enjoying strong sales as non-essential retailers, pubs, cafes and restaurants remain shut.

The latest pay rise from Sainsbury's means workers at the retailer have seen salaries increase 24% over the last five years.

The bonus is the third since the pandemic and means the company has handed out more than £100 million in extra cash to workers.

A 10 per cent pay boost was made between March and April last year and a second boost of 10% for four weeks in November.

In March 2020, Sainsbury's also increased pay for store staff to £9.30 per hour, while pay for workers in central London - Zones 1 and 2 on the London Underground map - received £9.90 per hour.

But retail trade union Usdaw expressed disappointment that the latest pay offer will not meet the £10 per hour aim of its ‘new deal for workers’ campaign.

Usdaw national officer, Dave Gill, said:  “Over the last year, Sainsbury’s staff have worked throughout 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 per hour on offer, particularly after only receiving a 1.3 per cent increase last year.

“The deal offers a higher increase for Argos workers of around six per cent, which is welcome, but they also deserve better. Most Argos staff also worked throughout the pandemic, with many being redeployed into Sainsbury’s stores supporting the food retail side of the business.

“Providing small bonuses to staff will affect payments of Universal Credit and working tax credits that many staff rely on. Instead of bonuses, Sainsbury’s should at least match the Usdaw/Morrisons deal and give their staff the proper pay rise they deserve,” said the union rep. 

Sainsbury's and other supermarkets had also faced criticism earlier in the crisis when attention appeared to be focused on handing out dividends to shareholders from the extra profits generated during the pandemic.

But several supermarkets agreed to hand back cash saved from business rates holidays, increased pay rates, paid bonuses and agreed to Boxing Day holidays before making the dividend payments.

Clodagh Moriarty, 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."

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