35,000 Asda workers have won the latest stage of their battle to be paid the same as workers in the food giant’s distribution centres.
The Supreme Court has ruled that shop work can be compared to work in the distribution centres. The decision could see Asda cough up £500m in compensation.
The win is the latest stage of a long-running saga that begun 13-years ago.
The case had already been heard in the court of appeal, which ruled that the mainly female staff on lower pay in stores could legitimately compare themselves to Asda’s more highly-paid, mainly male, warehouse workers.
After a 3-day hearing in October 2018, Lord Justice Underhill said that ‘Asda applied common terms and conditions’ for shop workers and distribution centre staff.
The Workers Union on Retail’s Future
The Supreme Court’s ruling is another step towards pay equality for retail workers. Given that many of these workers are also women, it also represents a step towards closing the gender pay gap.
However, much remains to be done to ensure that people who perform vital services are paid fairly for their labours. Private enterprise can do its bit by reassessing the relative value it places on different jobs, but those in government also have a role to play. An additional increase in the minimum wage would be a start, as would a comparative fall in business rates and rents so that the high-street has a fighting chance of post-COVID recovery.
It’s a problem we can’t afford to ignore. Without investment and opportunities for growth, our high streets risk becoming showcases for wind-blown crisp packets and whitewashed windows. In this scenario, the fight becomes less about fair wages and more about hanging on to jobs and livelihoods.
So the challenge for our nation is clear: we need to take our towns, city-centres and retail parks out of the red and make them the beating heart of civic pride once more.
The Workers Union – fighting for social justice, fighting for you