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Asda introduces four-day working week trial as threatened strike postponed

The household supermarket name Asda is the latest business to trial a four-day working week.

The Issa brothers, billionaires who own the supermarket giant, are attempting to improve working conditions after significant walkouts among senior staff, according to reports.

Asda workers at the Gosport megastore had been due to take strike action on Friday 19 January, signalling the first time any of the retailer’s employees have ever staged a walkout, but it was postponed earlier this week.

In a presentation shared at the end of last year, Asda said they were making a “case for change” to retain store managers, with a new working arrangement trial to conclude at the end of this month.

The experiment included shorter shifts, flexible working arrangements as well as a four-day week, The Sunday Telegraph reports.

Last year, the world’s largest four-day week trial was hailed a major success as 61 companies across the UK reduced their working hours by 20 per cent for six months, and saw a significant reduction in stress and illness.

However, flexible working might not solve all the supermarket’s issues. The owners have faced countless problems since they bought Asda from Walmart for £6.8bn three years ago: the market share has decreased dramatically and they are clouded by billions of pounds of debt and employee complaints, while falling behind their rivals Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

An ex-employee, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Sunday Telegraph: “I can honestly say its the worst company I’ve ever worked for. You wouldn’t have got away with the nonsense I saw under Walmart.

“In my store, there were more than 350 people. Scores of colleagues left that store alone. A manager I worked with had been there for 25 years and she left because she’d had enough.

“When you have such a breakdown from above and no process that’s being adhered to, that’s when you risk a riot. And unfortunately for Asda, it’s now a full-scale riot.”

An Asda spokesman said: “Since September 2023, we have been trialling a variety of flexible working patterns for managers in 20 stores, including a four-day working week for the same pay and benefits.

“There has been no reduction in the number of hours that hourly-paid colleagues are contracted to work as a result of this trial.

“While we are still evaluating the results, the feedback from participating colleagues has been very positive.”