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Supreme court rules against Asda in workers’ equal pay case

Makbool Javaid, Partner - Simons Muirhead & Burton

The Guardian reports that Asda shop workers have won the latest stage in their fight for equal pay in a ruling that could lead to a £500m compensation claim. More than 44,000 shop workers say they should be paid the same as the predominantly male staff who work in the chain’s depots, and who receive a higher wage of £1.50-£3 an hour more than the shop workers.

The GMB union, which is backing the case, called the supreme court ruling a “massive victory”. The win is the first major stage of the long-running court battle that has implications for workers in all the major supermarkets. The supreme court backed the 2016 employment tribunal ruling, which was also previously upheld by the court of appeal in 2019.

The outcome of the landmark case – the biggest-ever equal pay claim in the UK private sector – will have repercussions for about 8,000 workers at other supermarkets, including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Co-op and Morrisons, who are also engaged in equal pay disputes with their employers.

Unequal pay has been a big battleground in the public sector, with female cleaners and dinner ladies taking legal action over claims they were paid less than men who worked as refuse collectors or street cleaners.

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