HALTON MP Derek Twigg MP is calling on Asda to think again over forced contract changes that will see staff in Widnes and Runcorn Asda stores "lose out."

The issue over controversial new contracts has been rumbling for some months - but it is due to come to a head in the coming weeks as staff across the country are forced to sign changes to their working conditions.

It is understood staff across the country will be staging protests next Wednesday, August 14, over the so-called "flexible" Contract Six, which is being enforced across the board.

The contract has previously been voluntary for staff – however GMB union members now say they are being forced into signing the new deal.

Under the terms bank holidays will made compulsory while paid breaks will be scrapped in exchange for a new £9 an hour basic rate.

In a recent consultative ballot 93% of respondents told the GMB they did not agree with the changes.

Mr Twigg said: "It is deeply concerning that such a large employer in Halton is leaving their staff with no choice other than to accept these new contracts or risk losing their job.

“Many Asda workers with caring commitments are going to be severely hit by any loss in flexibility – this is an awful position for the company to put dedicated staff in.

"Shoppers would be horrified to know Asda are leaving staff with no real choice. Asda should think again.

“I understand some improvements to the original contract proposed have been won by GMB members in Asda but I’ll be calling on Asda to work constructively with the union, its members and workers to seek a better deal and secure a decent future for Asda workers in Halton.”

Writing on the company's website Asda’s senior vice president, operations, Anthony Hemmerdinger said: “Our colleagues do an amazing job every day and we want to continue to reward them with a higher rate of pay, plus benefits such as their annual bonus.

"As our customers continue to change the way they shop with us, we also have to be prepared to change to meet their needs and a key part of delivering great service is having the right colleagues in the right place at the right time, which is what this contract aims to achieve.

“This proposal is also about increasing our basic rate of pay and aligning the way of working in our stores so that everyone has the same contract, making it fairer to all colleagues and ensuring we can consistently provide the best service to customers.”

The proposed changes include:

An increase in the basic pay rate to £9 per hour and additional geographic and role premiums;

28 days annual leave, including bank holidays;

Agreement to work bank holidays if required by their store (or take as annual leave), with the exception of Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, which will remain voluntary and paid at double time;

Change in the "night shift window" and increase to night shift "premium;"

A move to all breaks being unpaid.

Asda says it is maintaining its commitment not to use zero hours contracts, as staff would retain guaranteed minimum hours.

While the new contract will "require colleagues to be flexible," fair and reasonable notice – of at least three weeks – would be given for any changes to rotas, "and consideration would be given to those with other requirements outside of work."