Aldi defends HR practices after scathing Channel 4 documentary

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Aldi is in defensive mode after last night’s Channel 4 Dispatches documentary that questioned the retailer’s HR practices. Aldi slammed the show as unbalanced and said in a statement that it only opted to show ‘selective information’.

Aldi’s Supermarket Secrets featured two undercover reporters at stores in Scotland and the North West of England. The reporters uncovered breaches in health and safety, out of date products and unrealistic time pressures on staff to stock shelves.

An Aldi spokesperson said the programme had ‘misrepresented’ the brand. The company has recently committed itself to paying the Living Wage and is already renowned for paying staff members handsomely.

“This programme misrepresents Aldi and was based upon selective information. Our customers shop with Aldi because we offer them the best products at the best prices. We are proud to have been named Which? Best Supermarket for a record fourth time.”

The documentary claimed that staff are required to arrive 15 minutes before starting a shift to walk the aisles and check stock levels, without being paid.

Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw has responded to the documentary by calling on Aldi to get round the table and resolve the many issues raised by union members who work for the discount retailer and problems identified in tonight’s Dispatches programme on Channel 4.

Usdaw is recruiting Aldi staff and has, reportedly, heard a string of complaints about poor health and safety, bullying, late shift changes and unrealistic productivity targets.

“Usdaw is the trade union for Aldi workers and we know that staff have significant grievances which are largely left unresolved, leading to low morale and a high turnover of personnel,” Usdaw Deputy General Secretary  Paddy Lillis  commented.

“Trade unions are problem solvers, not problem causers and we are happy to work with Aldi to make it a better place to work. It would be very short-sighted of the company to dismiss the worrying feedback we have had from their employees.

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  1. I didn’t see this documentary but as an HR person with a long career in international recruitment with 13 years previous experience in retail I find this interesting. I know Aldi from 1979 when I first went to live in Germany and the staff were well paid then as they had to know the prices of all products by heart as this was quicker than using scanners. Nowadays I live in Austria and shop there (its called Hofer here) regularly. One thing I do note is that HR practices that are taken for granted in one country and not necessarily well received in another country. For example when Primark opened here recently the staff were up in arms about doing bag checks on each other. This is something I am used to in the fashion retail trade in the U.K. Being punctual for work is a very German ethic for example. Having lived and worked in both the U.K. and in German speaking countries for 25 years, I see both sides of the coin. I know in my local branch of Hofer the staff turnover is practically non-existent. Is it really so that the Tescos, Waitroses and Sainsburys HR practices are better………..I fear not!

  2. The business needs to recognize trade unionism for their own sake and that of their work force. Management think they can bully staff to do anything outside their contracts and intimidation is rife for fear of losing their positions.

  3. The other astonishing fact is that if you apply for a job from Aldi, apart from an email that thanks you for the application, you never hear from them! If you try apply for another job, even at another store, they say that you can not apply again until after one year!!!!! That is ridiculous! What is a person supposed to do for a year and what skills are you perhaps missing that they want you to improve on. Without any feedback you have no clue what it is that you are missing so that you can get those skills!!

  4. The way the area managers (most are kids) treat lower level management is disgusting.
    If your face fits that week you are ok if not you will be threatened with disciplinary action .
    My wife has been there 5 + years and her current A/M who is a young girl with no life experience is make no her life hell . She has the cold/flu that is going around at the moment and was actually sick on herself from coughing so much this morning but when she spoke to her store manager she was told if she didn’t clean herself up and come in then the A/M would be issuing a disciplinary letter??? My wife does courses via Aldi where they are told what is and isn’t safe around food but this all goes out of the window if you have an A/M like she does ! But they also make it very difficult to complain about anyone above them and are just given lip service all the time.

  5. I really wish that Mr Leeming would have known about my story when this aired. On new years eve I arrived to work and upon doing my walk through I realized that the amount of work was at least ten times the about of any normal day and we were already expected to do the work of three employees. When I told the G M that there was no way possible any human could do what was being asked I was basically told that I’d do it if I wanted to keep my job. I tried and while I was the only employee in the store. I had loads of work in the back, the cooler, the freezer, outside, in the office and had to wait on customers at the same time. I tried my best and was literally running. I got hurt. Bad. I had to have back surgery. This was in 2004. I’ve been disabled since. This company ruined my life and even though I have an active workers comp case they fight me. They are self insured workers comp and don’t play by the same rules. My Dr told me that the way that they allow then deny my medicine can kill me. I haven’t had a penny coming in for years and I can’t work. A person can’t survive with zero income and unable to work. If you ever do another story on them please contact me. I was an active hard working mother of three before this company ruined my life.

  6. I don’t work at Aldi, but my boyfriend works nights in the Margate store. Almost two years after this article was written, there’s still bullying, health and safety issues, dodgy products and just poor treatment of staff. He comes home every morning covered in cuts and bruises because managers have refused to supply him with the proper health and safety equipment, despite saying he’ll pay whatever he has to. The store manager constantly berates him and has spread rumors about him. He can’t trust the manager or his colleagues. (This is a manager that has been suspended and investigated for an embezzling scheme, by changing the hours he clocks in and out in the computer system, and somehow wormed his way back in.)
    The scheduling is terrible. Only a few weeks ago he worked 4 nights, one night off, another 2 nights in, two nights off and then another 5 in. He became sick due to the stress and spent his well earned time off in bed.
    As the article stated, staff are still required to arrive 15 minutes early.
    And for a single sick day, he has to get a doctors note before his next shift. Doctors won’t provide one for less than 7 days off sick.
    His pay has been docked repeatedly and, despite trying to talk to someone about it, he’s heard nothing back and has no idea what is going on. He has no way of contacting the area manager who only comes into the store in the middle of the day, and randomly, outside his working hours. He’s stuck in a dead end and can’t get a new job because Aldi, ironically, provide the best income.

    Those are just the highlights. He’s worked there 2 years and, mentally, is holding on by a thread…

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