Thousands of salaried Tesco workers forced to take real-terms pay cut

A 3% pay rise for team managers amid 10% inflation comes after a string of wage rises for hourly staff

Thousands of Tesco staff have been forced to take a large real-terms pay cut as the supermarket puts a squeeze on store managers while offering bigger wage rises for lower-paid workers.

In the latest pay battle amid the cost of living crisis, the retailer’s team managers, who earn about £30,000 a year, say they have received as little as a 3% pay rise. The official rate of inflation is close to 10%, and expected to hit 11% this month.

The managers, about 6,500 of whom oversee shop-floor staff, say the real-terms cut in their salaries has come as they have seen a big increase in their workload after being asked to manage many more people because of job cuts.

One team manager told the Guardian they now have responsibility for more than 20 workers compared with about seven five years ago.

“We all feel very let down. Tesco is publicly stating that it understands how its colleagues are struggling, yet appears to be excluding a whole chunk of store staff,” one team manager said.

Others said, in messages seen by the Guardian, that their workload had increased as they had to cover for staff who were off sick because there were not enough staff to cover overtime. “We’re in the trenches and it feels like a battle to survive,” one said, while another said: “I am exhausted”.

Daniel Adams, national officer for the shopworkers’ union Usdaw, said: “[We have] consistently raised the issue of pay for salaried employees within Tesco and we are pressing the business to do more for these colleagues too, given the extent and depth of the cost of living crisis.

“We continue to relay the feedback of members to the business and will be discussing the situation further with the business at our next national consultative meeting.”

A Tesco spokesperson said the company was working hard to support staff across the business. “We benchmark pay for all roles at Tesco to ensure they are competitive against the market and we’re also mindful of the broader economic pressures our colleagues face.

“Our team managers do brilliant work, day in day out, and in addition to their pay increase this year, they also received a bonus of 4.5% in May. We’re currently speaking to both colleagues and our union representatives to understand how we might be able to support these colleagues further.”

The company is also understood to have recently introduced “shift leaders” to help with some of the managers’ tasks.

One team leader said the change had been made as a cheaper alternative to having more managers. They added that the bonus was subject to high levels of tax because it was a one-off payment, and was also entirely at Tesco’s discretion, so not as reliable as regular pay.

The real-terms pay cut for the company’s salaried workers has emerged after a much-trumpeted string of pay rises for staff on contracts for hourly work.

The supermarket said earlier this week that from 13 November, the basic hourly rate of pay in Tesco stores would increase by 20p to £10.30 (or £10.98 in London), taking the total pay rise this year to 8%.

Those in the group’s Booker wholesale business will receive a 25p-an-hour rise to a minimum of £10.

Tesco is also bringing forward its next pay review to January, about three months earlier than usual, so that hourly paid workers are likely to see another pay rise in the spring, rather than in August.


Sarah Butler

The GuardianTramp

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