National Agreement Between Sainsbury's Supermarkets Limited (The Company) and Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (The Union) - 2001



The purpose of this Agreement is to establish a framework within which constructive employment relationships can be maintained and developed. Throughout Sainsbury's people are central to our future profitability. Success will depend on the positive atmosphere that we create and the excellent service we provide to our customers.

Sainsbury's mission is to be the UK customers' first choice for food shopping. Quality, great service and competitive cost, supporting our colleagues and creating an environment where they will support us in achieving these goals are essential. Colleagues' commitment to flexibility and adaptable working practices making full use of their skills, training and expertise is a vital element to secure improved business performance, employment opportunities and to deliver improved results to maximise returns for our shareholders.

By working better together we can balance the needs of the business and the needs and interests of colleagues both collectively and individually. The parties to this Agreement recognise the Trade Union has a constructive and effective role to play in the employment relationship and can add value to the decision making process. This new improved National Agreement embodies the principals of the 'way we work' – faster, simpler, together. The parties will ensure the terms and the spirit of this Agreement are continually respected and implemented by both parties.

1. Recognition

This Agreement is between Sainsbury's Supermarkets Limited hereafter known as (The Company) and the Union of Shop Distributive and Allied Workers hereafter known as (The Union). The Company recognises Usdaw as the sole representative Union for all Sainsbury's colleagues covered by this Agreement. It is recognised the Company needs to manage and organise the business, in turn the Union has a right to represent the views and interests of its members which will be considered by the Company when making such decisions. Both parties confirm that the purpose of the Agreement is to outline the procedures relevant to recruitment, recognition and representation rights of the Union as they are applied within each individual store. It is accepted that the Company operates common personnel procedures and conditions of employment across all stores, and only the interpretation or application of these can be challenged at local level. It is agreed that the content of such policies and procedures should be the subject of consultation when necessary, at National Level.

2. Scope of Agreement

The Agreement covers:

2.1 Sainsbury's colleagues (Bands 1, 2 and 3) in all existing Usdaw recognised stores.

2.2 Unrecognised or new stores including acquisitions will be allocated for recruitment purposes on the following basis.

Alternative allocation between each of the two recognised Trade Unions will be made within each of the three store categories below:

- Small stores – up to 150 colleagues.

- Medium stores – 151-300 colleagues.

- Large stores – 301 plus colleagues.

2.3 Recognition will then be granted on the following basis:

- The Union writes requesting recognition to the Regional Human Resource Partner (RHRP) providing evidence of the necessary levels of membership.

- Recognition will then be granted by the RHRP.

2.4 If there is no take up at the store then the other recognised union can request to the Business Partner Human Resource Store Operations for permission to approach the store for recruitment purposes.

3. General Principals

3.1 The Company and the Union are committed to working together in a spirit of co-operation to benefit the Company, colleagues, shareholders and customers.

3.2 The parties to this Agreement recognise that the success of the Company is paramount to the wellbeing of all colleagues and is the basis on which improvements in pay and conditions, continued employment security and maximising shareholders' returns can be achieved.

3.3 The parties agree that good relationships between them are essential to supporting and achieving the mission to be the first choice for food. This can be achieved through mutual respect, openness and trust.

3.4 The parties recognise that change is inevitable and desirable. To achieve continued commercial success the Company will have to maximise the contribution of all its colleagues. By adapting best practice in regards to the methods of working and the flexible organisation of work, both parties agree to manage the impact of contractual change in a responsible, timely and constructive manner.

3.5 The Company recognises the rights of its colleagues to belong to a Trade Union and agrees to bring to the attention of all employees the existence of our relationship with the unions in recognised stores.

3.6 The Union will have the facility to explain the value and benefits of union membership to all new colleagues as part of the induction process.

4. Representation

4.1 Colleagues of the Company who are members of the Union may be elected/selected as workplace Union representatives to represent Union members in accordance with the terms of this Agreement.

4.2 Union representatives will be permanent colleagues and should normally have no less than one year's service with the Company prior to nomination (except in the case of new stores).

4.3 The number of Union Representatives in each recognised store will be a minimum of two to a maximum of four full-time equivalent, this will be based on the store size and the number of colleagues employed in each store as follows:

- Small stores – (up to 150 colleagues) a maximum of two Union representatives.

- Medium stores – (151 to 300 colleagues) a maximum of three Union representatives.

- Large stores – (301 plus colleagues) a maximum of four Union representatives.

4.4 All the representatives must be mutually acceptable to the Union and the Company. The Company will not unreasonably object to the choice of representative. In the event that the Company does object to a specific nomination, their objection will be put in writing to the Area Organiser concerned. The Area Organiser can challenge the objection, following which a meeting will be held to resolve the matter. Should it be necessary, the matter will be determined by the National Officer and the Business Partner for Human Resource Store Operations.

4.5 All the representatives must be mutually acceptable to the Union and the Company. The Company will not unreasonably object to the choice of representative. In the event that the Company does object to a specific nomination their objection will be put in writing to the Area Organiser concerned. The Area Organiser can appeal against the objection, following which a meeting will be held to resolve the matter. Should it be necessary, the matter will be determined by the National Officer and the Senior Manager for Retail Human Resources.

4.6 The Union will provide the Company with names of the representatives immediately after the election has taken place.

4.7 As soon as an employee ceases to be a member of the Union, their appointment as Union representative will also cease.

4.8 The parties recognise that it is in the interests of all concerned to ensure Union representatives receive the very best training and development to enable them to carry out their duties in a reasonable and effective way. The Company agrees to provide Union representatives with reasonable paid time off to attend training courses, as detailed in Appendix A.

5. Facilities

The Company will make facilities available for Union representatives/officials to carry out their duties and responsibilities under this Agreement.

5.1 The Union representatives will be allowed reasonable paid time off to conduct Union activities specified in this Agreement.

5.2 The Company will provide Union representatives with a 15 minute section at each company induction for the purpose of recruitment, to explain the value and benefits of Union membership to all new store colleagues.

5.3 The Company will make the Union representative aware of induction times. The Union will provide seven days' notice to the Store Manager of their intention to attend an induction.

5.4 Union representatives requesting time off for Union duties must inform their duty manager as far as possible in advance of likely length of absence and the purpose.

5.5 Should the Company request that such time off be postponed for operational reasons the parties will endeavour to agree a suitable alternative. Neither party will act unreasonably on the question of postponement.

5.6 The Company will provide Union representatives with the facilities to communicate with other employees, these will include:

- Union noticeboard.

- Internal mailing system.

- Access to telephones.

- Use of filing cabinet.

5.7 The Union representative will seek agreement from the Store Manager of the content of any Union literature to be displayed or circulated within the store.

5.8 Union representatives will be allowed to receive or make phone calls applicable to their roles as Union representatives. Representatives agree to use these facilities responsibly and with due consideration.

5.9 The parties recognise that Union meetings can be mutually beneficial when held on Company premises. Permission to hold such meetings must be obtained in advance from the Store Manager, such permission will not be unreasonably withheld.

5.10 The Company will deduct Union subscriptions where authorised through the Company's payroll system. These will be forwarded to the Union on an agreed basis.

6. Full-Time Officials

The partners to this Agreement recognise that the Union's full-time official must follow the following procedure when visiting the store for recruitment purposes:

- Telephone or write to the Store Manager at least seven days in advance of the planned visit.

- Follow the normal visitors' procedures.

- Visits can be made at any time throughout the 7 days operation, and officials can circulate freely within the Staff restaurant and any other areas agreed by the Store Manager, eg the clocking in areas, this must not interfere with the day-to-day operation of the store.

- Visits must not be made for recruitment purposes during busy trading periods, ie Christmas, Easter, Bank Holidays or during a store refurbishment.

7. New Openings

7.1 The Union will receive automatic recognition as laid down by the Agreement.

7.2 The Union will not visit new stores for the purpose of recruitment until three months after the store has opened, although they may attend induction sessions as detailed in Section 5 of this Agreement.

7.3 The Company agrees to provide National Officers with reasonable notice of all new store openings.

8. Union Representative Training and Development

8.1 It is agreed the Union will provide training to Union workplace representatives, which is appropriate to their role. By agreement, the Company will allow paid time leave in order that this training takes place as detailed in Appendix A.

8.2 Workplace representatives will not be allowed to attend Union training courses during peak trading periods (Christmas, Easter, Bank Holidays). Should the Company be unable to release a workplace representative for operational reasons, every effort will be made to accommodate them for the next available course.

8.3 Three Union representatives from each of the six consultative regions will be granted paid time off to attend the Annual Sainsbury's Delegate Meeting.

9. Consultative Structures

The parties recognise that communication and consultation between the Company and its employees is vital and that a representative trade union has a constructive and effective role to play in the employment relationship. To facilitate that process, joint regional and national consultative structures have been established.

9.1 No more than one representative from a store may be a member of the Regional or National Consultative Committee at any one time.

9.2 Representatives to the Regional and National Joint Consultative meetings will be elected every two years.

9.3 The Company will grant paid time off to the Union representatives attending consultative meetings.

9.4 Reasonable travel costs and overnight accommodation (where necessary) will be met by the Company.

9.5 Minutes of the Regional and National Consultative meetings will be circulated by the Company to all stores and all Union representatives.

Details of the meetings can be found in Appendix B.

10. Meetings

10.1 Three Union representatives from each of the six consultative regions will be granted paid time off to travel to and attend the Annual Sainsbury's Delegate Meeting.

10.2 The Company will consider requests for unpaid time off for other Union representatives to attend.

10.3 Up to 3 representatives will be given paid time off to attend the Unions Annual Delegate Conference.

10.4 Reasonable written notification must be received by the Company from the National Officer at least 4 weeks in advance of the meeting.

10.5 The parties agree that any further requests for time off for representatives will be subject to agreement.

11. Failure to Agree

The purpose of this procedure is to resolve differences between parties at the earliest stage of procedure. The parties to this Agreement recognise that differences between them may arise. They will work to resolve these differences in the spirit of partnership and the terms of this Agreement until all procedures have been exhausted, no unilateral action will be taken.

Stage 1

Any issues of either an individual or collective nature which cannot be resolved by the relevant line manager should be discussed between the Union representative and the Store Manager with a view to reaching an agreement.

Stage 2

In the event the matter is not resolved at Stage 1, it will be discussed between the Regional Business Manager, or designated Senior Store Manager, the full-time official with the involvement of the Regional HR Partner. Under certain circumstances dependent upon the nature of the issue it will be acceptable for the Store Manager to discuss the issue with the full-time official.

Stage 3

If no agreement is reached at this level, the Union's National Officer and the Business Partner for HR Store Operations will be consulted.

Final Stage

If the matter remains unresolved, the parties will refer to ACAS for conciliation.

- Having reached agreement, both parties will have an obligation to ensure its terms are carried out.

12. Disciplinary and Appeals Procedure

The parties agree that an effective disciplinary and appeals procedure is necessary for promoting employment relations and fairness in the treatment of individuals. It is unlikely that any store or disciplinary rules can cover all circumstances that may arise, however, it is essential that certain standards or performance be maintained to protect the efficient running of the Company and wellbeing of all its colleagues. The procedure is designed to help and encourage all colleagues to achieve and maintain appropriate standards of conduct, attendance and job performance. The disciplinary and appeals procedure will be in the Employee Handbook and will be available from the Personnel Department within each store.

13. Fair Treatment Procedure

The Company recognises that from time to time employees may have a grievance or complaint about their employment. The Company policy is to help an individual who has a complaint get it sorted fairly, confidentially and wherever possible, locally and informally. The parties of the Agreement recognise that all employees have the right to a working environment free from bullying and harassment and regard any such conduct as a serious and unacceptable form of behaviour. Such behaviour will be regarded as a serious disciplinary offence warranting, where appropriate, summary dismissal. The Fair Treatment procedure will be in the Employee Handbook and will be available from the Personnel Department within each store.

14. Equal Opportunities

The parties to this Agreement are committed to the development of positive policies to promote equal opportunities in employment regardless of a colleague's sex, marital status (nee), colour, race, ethnic origins, disability, trade union membership or sexual orientation. This principle will apply in respect of all conditions of work.

14.1 The Company encourages training and development of all colleagues and provides promotion opportunities equally to those colleagues looking for advancement. The Union pledges its full support of this activity.

14.2 If a colleague considers that he or she may be subject to unequal treatment, then he or she may make a complaint, which will be dealt with through the agreed Fair Treatment procedure.

15. Health and Safety

Both parties recognise their joint responsibility for Health and Safety at Work and the necessity for having an effective and comprehensive Health and Safety Policy.

The procedures laid down in the Health and Safety at Work Act will be adhered to:

- A designated Health and Safety Representative will be appointed by the Union in each store.

- working hours to perform their duties and also undergo any such training as may be agreed by the Company and the Union.

16. Amendment/Termination

- One month's notice will be given in writing to amend any clause in this Agreement.

- Six months' notice in writing will be given to terminate this Agreement.

17. Date of Operation

This Agreement will be operative from 14 November 2001 and will supersede any previous Agreement.

Signed for on behalf of Sainsbury's Supermarkets Limited _______ John Adshead - Director

Signed on behalf of the Usdaw Union __________________________ John Hannett – Deputy General Secretary


Appendix A


These arrangements for training are intended to provide Usdaw shop stewards with a systematic programme to support them in their role. The training is separated into the following parts:

1. Initial briefing for new shop stewards. 2. Introductory training course. 3. Follow On training. 4. Specialist training. 5. Access to Company skills training. 6. Support for informal learning

Training for Safety Representatives is covered in a separate paper.

Principles for Training

- It is primarily the responsibility of Usdaw to train its representatives, though the Company must also play its role.

- Training should be ongoing, flexible and based around participative learning.

- Attendance on Company skills training courses is supplementary to and does not replace Usdaw's training.

1. Initial Briefing for New Shop Stewards

This briefing introduces a new representative to the role of the shop steward, the importance of constructive industrial relations and the support, training and assistance available to the shop steward.

More specifically, the briefing will cover the following topics:


- The relationship between the manager and the shop steward.

- The shop steward's pack.

- The role of the representative in.

- Representation.

- Advice and Communication.

- Recruitment.

- The support and assistance available.

- The facilities available for the shop steward.

- Future training and support.


- Gathering and recording information.

- Listening.


- Open and honest approach to the role.

- Trustworthy and approachable.

- Working together with the store manager.

- Equal opportunities.

The briefing will take place on-site as soon as possible after election and will last up to four hours. The briefing will be taken by the Usdaw Area Organiser with the store manager attending for the discussion about the relationship between the manager and the shop steward.

2. Introductory Training Course

This course will concentrate on helping Union representatives to represent members in the procedures, to recruit members, to develop better working relationships with members, other officials and managers and, finally, to develop a better understanding of trade union aims and values.

The emphasis is on developing the representatives' confidence and supporting the representatives in their role within the store context.


- The role of representative.

- Grievance and disciplinary procedures.

- Union aims and values.

- Union services and benefits.

- Basic Union/Company structures.

- Contracts and sources of information.

- Recruiting.

- Developing working relationships with members, managers and officials.


- Interviewing members.

- Note taking and recording information.

- Meeting skills (one to one, small groups).

- Listening skills.

- Feedback/reporting skills (one to one, small groups).

- Advocacy/representation.

- Locating and assessing information.

- Extracting key points from documents and statements.

- A methodical approach.


- Open, honest, credible and confident approach that is assertive but not aggressive.

- Equal opportunities for all.

3. Follow On Training Course

This course aims to focus on helping Union representatives to re-cap on representational matters, to develop recruiting and presentational skills (with an emphasis on using the Induction session), to develop their ability to participate in Sainsbury or Usdaw structures and finally to develop an understanding of the equal opportunities, financial and legal context in which the Company operates.

There is greater emphasis on the wider context in which store matters take place.


- A re-cap on procedures.

- Speaking skills and running indications.

- Meeting management/negotiating skills.

- Harassment/bullying and equal opportunities issues and procedures.

- Sainsbury/Usdaw structures.

- Financial and sector awareness.

- Company/Usdaw structure.

- An introduction to employment law (in particular dismissal).


- Skills needed to run induction sessions and meeting skills.

- Presentational skills for groups, using video equipment and other aids.

- Extracting information from complex documents.

- Developing reporting and committee skills.


- Reinforcing the attributes covered on the introductory course.

- Promoting equal opportunities for all.

4. Specialist Training

More experienced shop stewards will require ad hoc training to meet specific needs. Such training could include:

- Usdaw annual summer school.

- Usdaw training for branch officers.

- Usdaw/TUC training on specific subjects such as changes to employment law, equal opportunities, etc.

- TUC summer schools.

Additionally, Usdaw will provide opportunities for members and shop stewards to attend specialist weekend courses organised by local Federations.

5. Access to Company Skills Training

Training provided by the Company may be useful for Usdaw shop stewards. This could include modular sessions covering:

- Influencing skills.

- Problem solving.

- Decision making.

- Team building.

- Effective meetings.

- Communication skills.

Such training is intended to supplement and not replace training provided by Usdaw.

6. Support for Informal Learning

Learning not only takes place on formal courses but also through opportunities to share knowledge and experience with other representatives. This informal learning helps the new and not so new representatives pick up the skills and knowledge needed to be well versed Union representatives. The following examples of good practice have been identified as opportunities for informal learning.

Shadowing Experienced Representatives

A newly appointed representative can learn a lot from shadowing a more experienced representative. This would mean shadowing the experienced representative during a number of separate activities. These would include:

- Interviewing a member.

- Recruiting members.

- Attending a grievance hearing.

- Attending a disciplinary hearing.

- Seeking the answer to a query.

Sitting In/Shadowing Induction

The newly appointed representative can attend induction sessions with an experienced representative or an Area Organiser. There should be time before and after the session to discuss what will happen and to debrief.

Representatives' Meeting Once a Month

Meeting other representatives gives opportunities to learn from each other's experience. This meeting would involve all the representatives in a store. It would provide an opportunity to share experience and review current practice. The agenda would include the following:

- Review of Action Points from previous meeting.

- Enquiries and current issues.

- Problems dealt with (grievance, discipline, etc).

- Report from meetings with management.

- Recruitment progress.

- Any other business.

- Action points.

Meeting with Regional Representatives

There will be an opportunity for new representatives to meet with regional representatives.


Appendix B

Regional Consultative Structure


- The regional consultative structures will consist of six regions.

- They will meet three times a year.

- One Union representative from each store will attend a Union only meeting to discuss and prepare an agenda for the joint meeting.

- The agenda will be submitted at least two weeks in advance of the joint meeting.

- Joint Company meeting.


Regional Business Manager. Regional Human Resource partner. Full-time Union official. Six Union representatives per region.

Format of the Meeting

Business Review.

Business Activity.

People Activity.

- Resourcing.

- Training.

- Culture.

- Policies.

T&G discussion items/tabled in advance communication of agreed agenda items.

National Consultative Structure


- Two meetings per year, March and October.

- Union only meeting prior to joint meeting.

- The agenda will be submitted at least four weeks in advance of the joint meeting.


- Senior Manager, Retail Operations.

- Senior Manager, Human Resource Retail.

- National Officer.

- Area Organiser x 1.

- Twelve Regional Union Representatives (must include Rep from Northern Ireland).

Sainsburys - 2001

Start date: → 2001-11-14
End date: → Not specified
Ratified by: → Other
Ratified on: → 2001-11-14
Name industry: → Retail trade
Name industry: → Department stores and supermarkets
Public/private sector: → In the private sector
Concluded by:
Name company: →  Sainsbury's Supermarkets Limited
Names trade unions: →  USDAW - Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers


Training programmes: → Yes
Apprenticeships: → No
Employer contributes to training fund for employees: → No


Equal pay for work of equal value: → No
Discrimination at work clauses: → Yes
Equal opportunities for promotion for women: → Yes
Equal opportunities for training and retraining for women: → Yes
Gender equality trade union officer at the workplace: → No
Clauses on sexual harassment at work: → Yes
Clauses on violence at work: → Yes
Special leave for workers subjected to domestic or intimate partner violence: → No
Support for women workers with disabilities: → No
Gender equality monitoring: → No