Edinburgh’s Asda, Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s workers demand £10,000 back pay

A group of 213 shop floor workers from 66 city supermarkets have joined a legal fight for equal pay which could award each of them an average of £10,000 in back pay.

Wednesday, 14th July 2021, 4:45 pm

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The employees are among 50,000 supermarket workers up and down the country currently campaigning for equal pay.

The claim is on behalf of hourly paid store-based staff, mainly women, who claim their work is of equal value to that of workers, mainly men, who work in the supermarkets’ distribution centres.

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Edinburgh employees are among the 50,000 supermarket workers involved in law firm Leigh Day’s Equal Pay Now campaign.

The difference in hourly pay for a shop floor worker and a distribution centre worker can range from between £1.50 and £4, which could mean a disparity in pay of many thousands of pounds over a year.

Lawyers believe the average worker could be entitled to £10,000 for up to six years back pay. Some may be entitled to as much as £20,000.

Law firm Leigh Day is handling claims for more than 50,000 supermarket workers nationally.

Last month, thousands of Tesco shop floor workers won a legal argument in their fight for equal pay when the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that the 'single source' test applies to businesses in the UK.

Lawyers believe the average worker could be entitled to £10,000 for up to six years back pay.

This means a worker can compare their role with somebody working in a different establishment if a 'single source' has the power to correct the difference in pay.

The CJEU ruling follows a landmark judgment handed down by the Supreme Court saying that Asda shop floor workers can compare their roles to those of their colleagues in distribution centres for the purposes of equal pay.

During the pandemic I’m working double hours

One Asda employee from Edinburgh who has asked to remain nameless, said: "People who work in the warehouse don’t have to deal with the public so they’re not under the same stress as we are.

One Asda employee said it's "a lot of pressure" working on the shop front during the pandemic.

“It’s a lot of pressure and that pressure has increased during the pandemic because I’m working nearly double the amount of hours.

“My contract is 19 hours a week, but during Coronavirus two members of staff have been off shielding so I’ve been doing 38-40 hours.

“If we were to receive equal pay, I would feel that the work I do and the responsibilities that rest on my shoulders are actually appreciated.

“Everyone I work with involved in the claim goes above and beyond and this would finally be our recognition."

Emma Satyamurti, a partner at Leigh Day’s employment team, said supermarket workers have worked constantly through the pandemic and deserve equal pay.

She said: “The pandemic has been an unsettling and stressful time for us all, but while we have navigated this unprecedented time, one of the things that has remained constant is the hard work of supermarket shop floor workers in Edinburgh who put themselves at an increased risk to keep our fridges and cupboards stocked.

“Leigh Day understands that taking on a large company can be daunting but there is strength in numbers. It’s our hope that supermarket bosses will stop ignoring the voices of the tens of thousands of workers who say enough is enough.”

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