Asda shop workers have won the latest key stage in their fight for equal pay in a ruling that could lead to a £500m compensation claim.
The supreme court has backed a 2016 employment tribunal decision that the supermarket’s retail staff, who are mostly women, can compare their work to those in warehouse distribution centres.
More than 44,000 shop workers say they should be paid the same as the predominantly male staff who work in the chain’s depots, and who receive£1.50-£3 an hour more in pay than the shop workers.
The GMB union called the supreme court ruling a “massive victory”.
Susan Harris, the GMB legal director, said:“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.”
The outcome of the landmark case – the biggest-ever equal pay claim in the UK private sector – will have repercussions for about 8,000 workers at other supermarkets, including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Co-op and Morrisons, who are also engaged in equal pay disputes with their employers.