Sheffield supermarket workers in fight for more than £5m back pay
Supermarket workers in Sheffield could share more than £5 million in back pay if a legal fight is successful, a law firm claims.
A group of 529 staff at 54 Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Morrisons stores in the city have joined a mass claim which could award each of them an average of £10,000.
They are among 50,000 supermarket workers involved in law firm Leigh Day’s Equal Pay Now campaign.
It says the work of store-based staff, mainly women, is of equal value to that of warehouse workers, who are mostly men. Yet the pay difference can be up to £4-an-hour - worth thousands of pounds a year.
Lawyers believe the average worker could be entitled to £10,000 for up to six years back pay and some could be owed up to £20,000.
Last month, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled thousands of Tesco shop floor workers could compare their role with somebody working in a different establishment if a 'single source' has the power to correct the difference in pay.
In March, the Supreme Court ruled Asda shop floor workers can compare their roles to colleagues in distribution centres for the purposes of equal pay.
Emma Satyamurti, a partner in the Leigh Day employment team, said: “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.”
Spokespeople for Sainsburys, Asda and Tesco all insisted jobs in stores and depots had different skills and demands which led to variations in pay – but rates had nothing to do with gender.
A Sainsburys spokeswoman said: “We will continue to robustly defend our position in this litigation because we stand by our position that roles in stores and depots are fundamentally different.”
An Asda spokesman added: "This is a complex case that is likely to take several years to reach a conclusion.”
A Tesco spokeswoman said: “We reward our colleagues fairly for the jobs they do and work hard to ensure that the pay and benefits we offer are fair, competitive and sustainable.”
Morrisons declined to comment.