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Court rules against Asda in equal pay case

The Supreme Court ruled shop floor staff at Asda can be compared to workers in the distribution centre for the purposes of their equal pay claim

The Supreme Court has ruled that Asda’s shop floor staff can be compared to workers in the supermarket’s distribution centre for the purposes of their equal pay claim.

Back in January 2019, the Court of Action also ruled that GMB members could compare themselves in this fashion, upholding the rulings made by the employment tribunal in 2016 and the Employment Appeal Tribunal in 2017.

This latest ruling represents Asda’s fourth loss in court regarding this matter.

GMB is now calling on Asda to come to the negotiating table to discuss the shop workers’ compensation claim, which could total £500m.

Law firm Leigh Day has been hired to work the case on behalf of GMB members, with almost 40,000 claimants involved.

Susan Harris, the union’s legal director, said: “This is amazing news and a massive victory for Asda’s predominantly women shop floor workforce.

“We are proud to have supported our members in this litigation and helped them in their fight for pay justice.”

She added: “Asda has wasted money on lawyers’ bills chasing a lost cause, losing appeal after appeal, while tens of thousands of retail workers remain out of pocket.

“We now call on Asda to sit down with us to reach agreement on the back pay owed to our members – which could run to hundreds of millions of pounds.”

An Asda spokesperson told the Guardian: “This ruling relates to one stage of a complex case that is likely to take several years to reach a conclusion. We are defending these claims because the pay in our stores and distribution centres is the same for colleagues doing the same jobs regardless of their gender. Retail and distribution are very different sectors with their own distinct skill sets and pay rates. Asda has always paid colleagues the market rate in these sectors and we remain confident in our case.”

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