Shop workers, mostly women, said they should be paid a similar salary to distribution and warehouse colleagues, mostly men, who were paid up to £3 more time on old contracts.
Image: Alamy Photo)
Co-op shop workers have won a key legal argument in their equal pay dispute with the retail giant.
More than 1,600 co-op workers have taken action against the company following complaints that they are paid less than their colleagues at the company’s distribution centres.
Shop workers, mostly women, said they should be paid similar wages to distribution colleagues, mostly men, who were paid up to £3 more an hour.
The co-op has now granted a “comparability concession” in the case, a step towards recognizing that the different roles are of equal value.
However, the supermarket group said it would continue to defend itself against claims and believes it pays workers “fairly”.
This Co-op concession is the latest in a series of comparability steps for equal pay claims against major UK supermarkets.
Last year, Next and Sainsbury’s also conceded on the issue of comparability of equal pay claims they face.
Sainsbury’s fulfillment center staff can be paid £1.50 to £4 an hour more than those working stacking shelves or at checkouts.
In September 2021, an employment tribunal ruled that the roles of employees at Morrisons stores could be compared to their colleagues at distribution centres.
A Morrisons spokesperson said: “The decision does not decide whether the retail and logistics roles are of equal value. Morrisons pays a fair wage for a fair day’s work and will continue to fully defend these lawsuits.
This follows a victory for thousands of Tesco shop workers when the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that a worker can compare their role to someone working at another establishment if a “source unique” has the power to correct the wage difference.
Tom Hewitt, a solicitor with Leigh Day’s employment team, said: ‘Leigh Day is delighted to be able to tell co-op staff that he has cleared the first hurdle in his equal pay demands. .
“We hope Co-op recognizes that it can no longer deny that the work performed by store employees is of equal value to that of their colleagues in distribution centers.”
A spokesperson for the co-op said: “Our co-workers play an important role in feeding the nation and it is central to the co-op’s values that we compensate them fairly for the work they do to support communities. .
“We believe we pay our colleagues fairly for the roles they play, and so we will continue to pursue these claims.”