Waitrose is pushing shop workers to accept more flexible hours and warning they could lose their jobs if they don’t agree to them.
According to the Financial Times (FT), Tina Mitchell, retail director at the grocery chain, warned employees in a video message that “sacrifices and compromises” would need to be made, and streamlining operations could result in some staff leaving the business.
“Unless we change how we work, there’s a real danger that the partnership won’t exist in the form that we want it to in the future,” Mitchell reportedly told staff in the video.
Last month Waitrose, owned by John Lewis Partnership, launched a consultation with employees which, according to the FT, paves the way for changes to their contracts under a project named ‘Simpler Shops’.
According to the report, the company informed its staff that it lost £400 a year for every full-time employee, and that a third of its hours were “in the wrong place”. The chain is reportedly seeking to save £50 million a year from “productivity savings” through changing work patterns.
A Waitrose spokesperson said: “We want to provide the very best service to our customers [and] to do this, we’re asking some partners across our shops to change their working pattern, and are proposing to cease night shifts at a small number of stores. This isn’t something we take lightly and we’ll be supporting our partners through any changes.”
The business insisted that the changes it is proposing to make to working patterns are not unique to Waitrose, highlighting that similar changes have already been carried out by many other retailers.