Biggest ever gender pay gap challenge launched for Tesco workers

PUBLISHED: 10:48 07 February 2018 | UPDATED: 15:10 07 February 2018

Tesco Headquarters on Shire park

Tesco Headquarters on Shire park

Archant

Shop floor workers at Tesco, which has its headquarters at Welwyn Garden City, have announced legal proceedings demanding equal pay to warehouse workers.

Law firm Leigh Day, representing 100 Tesco workers, argues that the largely male-dominated distribution centre workers are receiving up to £3 an hour more than the female-dominated shop floor workers.

Currently, the law firm says that distribution centre workers are paid up to £11 an hour, while shop floor workers take home around £8 an hour.

Lawyer Paula Lee said: “In terms of equal worth to the company there really should be no argument that workers in stores, compared to those working in distribution centres, contribute at least equal value to the vast profits made by Tesco.”

Tesco, which has its headquarters in Welwyn Garden City, closed its Welham Green distribution centre in 2017, with a loss of 444 jobs.

The former Tesco Welham Green distribution centre.
Picture: Alex LewisThe former Tesco Welham Green distribution centre. Picture: Alex Lewis

READ MORE: Threat to 444 jobs as Tesco proposes Welham Green distribution centre closure

Leigh Day has begun submitting Employment Tribunal claims to the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS).

Over 1,000 workers have contacted them about the issue so far.

The law firm claims that the issue could potentially apply to 20,000 Tesco workers, which if pursued could lead to a compensation bill of £4billion and the country’s largest ever gender pay gap claim.

A Tesco spokesperson said: “We are unable to comment on a claim that we have not received.

“Tesco has always been a place for people to get on in their career, regardless of their gender, background or education, and we work hard to make sure all our colleagues are paid fairly and equally for the jobs they do.”

Tesco began monitoring its gender pay gap in 2002, and notes on its website that its median gender pay gap across all company roles is less than the national average, at 8.6 per cent.

The Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw), which is the main union representing Tesco workers, is not part of the legal action.

An Usdaw spokesperson said: “In recent months, Usdaw has been discussing this issue with a number of employers, including Tesco, in preparation for the introduction of mandatory gender pay gap reporting later this year.

“This is a change in the law which requires larger employers to publish information regarding differences in pay between men and women.

“Equal pay will continue to be high on our negotiating agenda.

“Usdaw is actively engaging with all employers where we organise, to establish the facts as to whether there are potential issues with equal pay for work of equal value.

“The Union will take the appropriate steps, whether through negotiations or legal channels, to address any issues that may be identified as part of this process.”

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