How people found out about the merger
GMB was very clear with Asda management that it was completely unacceptable that colleagues found out about the potential merger through a press leak. Some people found out when they turned up for their shift, some from shoppers and others from friends or on social media. That was disgraceful and we made that point very clearly.
Timescale and what happens next
Because the merger of Asda and Sainsbury's would create the biggest supermarket in the country, there are issues around competition and whether the merger would create a fair marketplace. The merger has been referred to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) who will look at the deal and decide whether it can go ahead.
The process is estimated to take between
12-18 months. There are a number of potential outcomes that can't be second guessed. The CMA could block the merger entirely or say the new company has too many stores and needs to dispose of some. They could say it's fine and can progress as is. We just don't know.
What we do know, is that until there is a decision in the next 12-18 months, nothing should change. There will be no store or depot closures because until the merger actually happens, Asda and Sainsbury's are very real competitors - neither company will make changes that could end up damaging their operations if the CMA say the merger cannot go ahead.
Savings, cost cutting and jobs
Asda believes the proposed merger will save
£500m and allow prices to be cut by 10%. We want to know how and where those savings will come from. Because let's be clear and honest, where other mergers have taken place in the retail sector this has led to stores being sold off and rationalisation taking place across distribution and head office. We made very clear that GMB would not find that acceptable in any form.
Asda said that the rationale behind the merger was that the retail sector is more competitive than ever with the challenge from discounters like Aldi, Lidl and pound shops. Their position is that the merger will secure and protect our members' jobs for the future.
What's GMB’s position?
We restated our position, that we are still yet to take a view on the merger and what representations we will make to the CMA, as we don't know enough of the detail and further discussions will be needed at all levels between GMB and Asda. There is absolutely no way that GMB will support any merger that, in 18 months, results in job losses, store or depot closures.
We are encouraging all Asda colleagues to join GMB - if your co-workers haven't joined yet now is the time to ask them - because together we have a stronger voice and bargaining position with Asda management.