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Tesco equal pay claim could set supermarket giant back £4bn
08 February 2018, 09:36 | Austin Hogan
Up to 200,000 Tesco staff could be affected by the claim
Leigh Day, the law firm that represents the store employees, argued that the workers are of "equal worth" to Tesco and should be paid the same.
Responding to the claim, Tesco said that all their staff are able to progress equally and are paid fairly, regardless of their gender or background.
Birmingham City Council is now liable for over £1bn pounds in payments after settling an equal pay claim from women employed as cleaners, cooks and carers.
Paula Lee, from Leigh Day, who is representing the Tesco women, said: 'We believe an inherent bias has allowed store workers to be underpaid for many years.
Its claim is likely to go before an employment tribunal before being taken to Acas.
Legal proceedings have begun in the first equal pay claims against Tesco in what could become the largest ever equal pay challenge in United Kingdom history, which could cost the retail giant £4 billion to compensate workers. The firm contends that female shop-floor workers are unfairly paid less than their male counterparts in warehouses and says more than 200,000 workers could be entitled to compensation.
Leigh Day has already been approached by more than 1,000 Tesco employees and ex-employees.
But Martins said that to win the legal argument, the store workers must prove they are contributing the same value as warehouse workers, and that their skills and hiring circumstances are similar.
"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 which past year had group sales of £49.9 billion".
The Tesco case arises as Britain is to launch a consultation into workplace rights in the face of public and political concern that some in the "gig economy" are being exploited.
Pam Jenkins, who has worked for the supermarket for 26 years, told the BBC: "We should be brought up to [the same pay] level".
While many people supported the equal pay challenge, others raised the question of whether people doing different jobs should earn the same amount of money.
"We deal with customers, they [the men] don't have to".