Picking up the pace

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Asda has come under fire again this month from the General Workers Union (GMB), amid claims that the supermarket’s target daily pick rate of 1,400 boxes is equivalent to exercising for eight hours in a gym.

The news comes as Asda has announced plans to open “at least” 25 new stores this year, creating 7000 new jobs.

According to a statement from the GMB, Asda is using the attempted introduction of radio frequency voice picking at its distribution warehouse in Wigan, to increase the daily pick rate from 1,100 boxes per person to 1,400. The union argues that the weight and shape of the boxes vary considerably and at the current 1,100 pick rate, each worker already moves between 2 and 10 tons of products each day.

The GMB says that it is seeking to apply a safety screen to this figure under the Manual Handling Regulations 1992. Under these regulations workers who are required to lift and move, by hand, between two and five boxes a minute and where the weight of the boxes ranges between 5 and 20 kilos, the work study figure is recommended to be reduced by between 30 per cent and 50 per cent to remove the danger of personal injury to the warehouse worker.

The GMB has asked Asda to submit the matter for arbitration to a panel of experts that can adjudicate on an efficient and safe method of working in line with each employee’s individual capabilities.

The GMB representative for Asda’s distribution depot, Eddie Gaudie, said: “Asking an Asda worker to shift 1,400 boxes a day is equivalent of asking someone to workout in a gym for eight hours a day every working day. It is equivalent of Asda asking their staff to work themselves to death. GMB is appealing to Asda to take this matter to arbitration to agree an efficient and safe method of working in line with each workers capability.”

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