Argos staff “ordered to work at Sainsbury’s – or will not be paid”

Argos staff claim to have been ordered to transfer to Argos counters inside Sainsbury’s stores which are open during the coronavirus pandemic – or they will not be paid and may lose their jobs.

Argos employees from at least two South London branches have been given letters by Sainsbury’s, which owns the electrical chain store, to present to their children’s schools which say they are key workers.

The letters say “their role is directly related to the sale and operation of food within our business”.

But the Argos staff say they are not working in the Sainsbury’s section with food or any other essential items.

Instead they say they are being told to work on the Argos counter selling items such as TVs, paddling pools and toasters.

The staff have also been told that if they cannot find childcare arrangements they will not be paid and claim there are no guarantees over future employment.

Argos staff say they feel at risk in the Sainsbury’s stores as staff numbers have increased and they are unable to maintain social distancing.

A relative of a manager of a South London branch of Argos, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “This is totally despicable of such a large company – who clearly are only interested in making a small fortune and not the safety of their staff or members of the public.

“These staff are not key workers. They should not be going there. They are in no way selling essential items and have been told ‘if you do not comply you will not have a job when the big shops open again’.

“The amount of people in the stores means social distancing is impossible. They have been given letters from Sainsbury’s to say they are key workers so they can send their children to school – and put them at risk.

“They don’t work for Sainsbury’s but now that it suits the company, they are calling them Sainsbury’s staff.”

Argos staff claim a meeting took place earlier today where workers were told which stores they would be moving to.

For some it is further away – meaning they have to take longer trips on public transport.

Dave Gill, national officer of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW), said: “With the overwhelming pressure on all food retailers it is inevitable that companies are going to look at redeploying staff within the business.

“However, this is extremely unsettling for staff in what are already difficult and testing times for everyone.

“USDAW is providing our members with support, advice and representation through this process.

“We want to ensure staff get the right hours of work; they are able to get to work if it involves a relocation and that they are no worse off because of the move.”

A Sainsbury’s spokeswoman said: “Like many non-food retailers, Argos continues to offer an online delivery service. Customers can also order items for in-store collection while shopping for food and other essential items in some Sainsbury’s stores.

“Many colleagues who have been working in Argos standalone stores are redeploying to Sainsbury’s stores to help feed the nation.

“We continue to protect colleagues and customers through a range of additional safety measures.”

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8 thoughts on “Argos staff “ordered to work at Sainsbury’s – or will not be paid”

  • We at Sainsbury’s/Argos are also still having to work in the warehouse (sending out non essential goods such as phones, computer games, cameras, toys etc.,) even though our staff numbers are dropping every day due to illness ( for which they receive only statutory sick pay). This company care only about profits….


    This is an absoluty disgusting way to treat people in this day and age. It is virtually blackmail. Sainsbury used to care for their staff before Justin King left, but suddenly went down hill when the current CEO, Mike Coupe took over. I worked at Sainsburys for over 30 years and never have I seen the colleagues so disgruntled.

  • Brenda Pithers

    Utterly disappointing and disgusting, if theres not enough pressure on families already your adding to it.
    People should boycott your stores

  • My daughter works for argos in swansea . I think its disgusting she has 3 daughters at home one with really bad asthma. She I’d lucky enough to be able to stay in her own store to get deliveries ready to go out . But it is a small store and non essential in mu books . Like article says just greed . I do worry about the social distance but she cant afford to lose her job .

  • My daughter works in an argos within a sainsburys store. I threat daily when she goes in as shes constantly verbally abused, has been threatened with violence and the police were called and most recently she was spat at!!! How is sainsburys protecting her….shes only 18 years old!! I’m disgusted with this and the lack of care for staff, all for profit in the guise of feeding the nation.

  • I work at Sainsbury’s. They are not taking the pandemic seriously at all. I went to my manager to raise my concerns as nobody is taking distancing or hygiene serious. I was told if I don’t like it. Don’t work. The online manager said and I quote ” we have targets to hit! ” I can’t believe they are putting profits and target before employees. Sainsbury’s are so greedy it makes me sick. I’m lucky I have a job at the minute that’s the only reason I’m still going. I will be handing my notice in as soon as this is over. Sainsbury’s are a danger to their staff. I am secretly recording and documenting what’s going on. 5 people on an isle working with no masks or appropriate gloves. This is on the nightshift btw. There’s no excuse for such misconduct. Sainsbury treat you like a number. All they want is money, money ,money. My manager came in boasting about making 1.1 million in the last week. No mention of staying safe, not even a thank you. Now he’s off for 2 weeks because he had a tickly throat. What a joke.

  • I am a delivery driver for Argos and I completely agree with the company’s decision to keep running. We are no different to Amazon drivers.
    People need to look at the bigger picture, if everyone else is stuck at home the kids need entertainment as well as grown ups!! So toys, sandpits, flat packs and laptops are keeping the rest of the nation inside safe! It may not be essential until you need it?? Yes this is probably a risk to us but someone has to keep things running in this country, please stop giving us a hard time we are doing our best in a difficult situation!

  • I have two sons who work for sainsburys , they both have been told by their doctor to stay at home due to a parent being very vulnerable to the coronavirus . They have had no support whatsoever by sainsburys even though they did everything they could to prove their case. They have hired more people and my sons are at more risk now than they were at the beginning of the pandemic. They have no choice but to go unpaid and sainsburys instructed them to self isolate for two weeks only when they did that they were told they would not even be paid for that even though the gazette boasts sainsburys will pay staff to self isolate. They are telling lies and making out they support their staff!!!! So angry.


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