Supermarket giant Sainsbury’s has been heavily criticised by members of its own staff who claim the company performed a U-turn on a promise that “all staff” could have Boxing Day off as a thank you.
The supposed gesture was set to serve as a reward for two hard years of service during the pandemic from key workers, including supermarket staff, who continued to work to ensure Brits could access food and essentials in store.
After it emerged that it may not apply to all workers within the business, however, staff contacted the Mirror directly claiming they still had to use holiday allowance or “work extra hours” to be able to have the day off.
Now, many say the confusion and last-minute changes to their working hours have ruined their Christmas plans after they were led to believe they were entitled to an extra day off work.
Sainsbury’s, meanwhile, has said the majority of employees didn’t have to work, but those that did would receive an increased rate of pay.
One worker, who wished to remain anonymous, claimed: “They released that, because of all of our hard work throughout Covid, we would be rewarded with having Boxing Day off as a goodwill gesture – but this is not the case.
“If we don’t want to work Boxing Day we have to book it as holiday or work extra hours on other days to make up the hours we would be working on Boxing Day.
“I’m not even seeing my own brother this Christmas now because he is seeing his girlfriend’s family on Christmas Day and then on Boxing Day him and his girlfriend were supposed to be spending time with us, but now it’s all cancelled because of Sainsbury’s making me work.”
Another wrote: “Those who have been given Boxing Day off have been told they must book a holiday or go take the day unpaid.
“So much for a big thank you. And if you are a late afternoon and evening worker you will have to work as the deliveries will be coming in from the distribution depots. People really don’t matter, only profits matter.”
Others took issue at the fact that, not only was the alleged Boxing Day off gesture flawed, but they had not even received a thank you. They suggested there were unfair incentives at play for people in different roles.
“I work for Sainsbury’s and have to work Boxing Day night, not only that but we have not had so much as a message saying thank you or Merry Christmas, yet the drivers who get paid more have also been promised a £500 bonus if they don’t call in sick in November and December,” another staff member claimed.
Another added: “Just worked six 10-hour shifts in a row, only to be told I am working Boxing Day night… We at Sainsbury’s received NOTHING AT ALL this Christmas All they seem to care about is tills being full, I know for a fact my store alone took over two million in the last week and a half… Not even had so much as a thank you… Will be leaving Sainsburys ASAP.”
Workers from other stores claimed there had been no messages of thanks there either, with one revealing that staff at the Taunton store in Devon allegedly have had to work even on Christmas Day “for years” due to an alarm fault.
They said: “The store you mention in your story online is nothing- staff are working at the Taunton store on Christmas Day because they couldn’t be bothered to fix the store alarm!!! This has been the case for years!!!”
Speaking to DevonLive on the issue, a spokesperson for Sainsbury’s said “The vast majority of colleagues will not need to work.
“There will be some shifts in logistics and our stores which will continue as normal so that we can make sure we’re well stocked for our customers when we reopen on December 27, but everyone who supports these shifts will receive an increased rate of pay.”
However, the allegations from staff suggest this is not the case and some suggested the mix-up had come as a result of Sainsbury’s promising the day off, but then organising deliveries for Boxing Day – meaning some staff would still need to work.
One worker wrote: “What Sainsbury’s did then was organise deliveries for each store on Boxing Day so some staff still have to go in.
“This is not a thank you but a slap in the face after they have worked so hard for little recognition.
“When we found out they would get Boxing Day off we, as a family, were so happy but then to be told they had to go in to unload a delivery we were crushed.”
Some workers were frustrated, however, by the complaints of their colleagues claiming they had “no right to complain” as working the Christmas period was a standard expectation for night staff, who are always left with a raw deal.
One night shift worker wrote: “The HANDFUL of day/evening shift staff who are being forced to work have no right to complain.
“Us night staff still have to work Boxing Day night even if its closed during the day so we have to choose to either spend Boxing Day asleep so we aren’t tired or spend the day with family trying to enjoy Christmas then risk going to work with little to no energy and a chance of passing out during the 30-minute lunch break we get.
“The only bonus the night staff get from having Boxing Day off is that we don’t have to work CHRISTMAS DAY NIGHT this year like we usually have to.
“Imagine not being able to enjoy Christmas Day because you have to work that night, the day staff don’t have that issue so they should stop complaining!”
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