Mor­risons in £1bn equal pay claim case

Fe­male shop floor staff start le­gal bat­tle

Yorkshire Post - Business - - FRONT PAGE - Ros Snow­don CITY EDITOR @RosSnow­donYPN

Su­per­mar­ket chain Mor­risons is fac­ing equal pay claims worth over £1bn for fe­male shop floor staff who be­lieve they were paid less than men work­ing in dis­tri­bu­tion cen­tres.

Law firm Leigh Day said that Mor­risons has around 80,000 store staff el­i­gi­ble to claim, which could re­sult in a bill for back pay of over £1bn if the Brad­ford-based gro­cer‘s ac­tion is found to be un­law­ful.

The law firm is al­ready work­ing on claims on be­half of 30,000 work­ers at Leeds-based Asda, Tesco and Sains­bury’s.

Emma Satya­murti, a part­ner at Leigh Day, said: “We be­lieve that Mor­risons, as with the other ma­jor su­per­mar­kets, has un­der­paid those work­ing in its stores for a num­ber of years.

“The big four su­per­mar­kets in the UK make vast amounts each year in prof­its – it is time that they faced up to their le­gal obli­ga­tions un­der Equal Pay leg­is­la­tion.

“Our clients be­lieve that those work­ing on the shop floor should be paid the same as those in the dis­tri­bu­tion cen­tres, and a fail­ure to com­mit to this is not only un­fair but un­law­ful.

“This le­gal ac­tion is be­ing taken for­ward to en­sure that the work done in stores and dis­tri­bu­tion cen­tres is recog­nised as be­ing of equal value; not the same work, but work of equal value and that those work­ing on the shop floor should be paid the same as their col­leagues in dis­tri­bu­tion.”

A spokesper­son for Mor­risons said: “We are not aware of any

court pro­ceed­ings is­sued by a third party. We have re­ceived a let­ter ask­ing us a num­ber of ques­tions about our pay poli­cies. Our aim is to pay our col­leagues fairly and equally for the job that they do, ir­re­spec­tive of their gen­der.”

Leigh Day said it be­lieves em­ploy­ees work­ing in male-dom­i­nated dis­tri­bu­tion cen­tres were paid con­sid­er­ably more than largely fe­male-staffed stores.

The law firm has lodged claims with the con­cil­i­a­tion ser­vice ACAS while await­ing a re­sponse from Mor­risons’ CEO David Potts, who they have writ­ten to on be­half of the first group of clients re­quest­ing Pay and Gen­der in­for­ma­tion for work­ers.

Leigh Day has also asked Mor­risons to con­firm if it has car­ried out an equal pay au­dit, some­thing the Equal­ity and Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion sug­gests is the most ef­fec­tive way of en­sur­ing an or­gan­i­sa­tion meets its equal pay obli­ga­tions.

The law firm said it has been re­ported that Mor­risons‘ CEO David Potts took home a £1.7m bonus in 2017 – a sum that could take a store em­ployee 100 years to earn.

The le­gal ac­tion comes a day be­fore Mor­risons an­nounces its in­terim re­sults to­day.

An­a­lysts at Shore Cap­i­tal said Mor­risons is ex­pected to re­port ac­cel­er­ated like-for-like sales growth in the sec­ond quar­ter, boosted by the hot weather and the World Cup.

It is also ex­pected to show good whole­sale sales, thanks to McColl’s ac­cel­er­at­ing the agree­ment to ful­fil 1,300 stores.

An­a­lyst Clive Black at Shore Cap­i­tal said: “Mor­risons may hit its am­bi­tion for £700m of an­nu­alised whole­sale sales be­fore De­cem­ber 2018.”

He said that the su­per­mar­ket chain is ex­pected to show “a good deal“more progress in the sec­ond half.

“The Bri­tish gro­cery scene has ex­pe­ri­enced a good early sum­mer in our view,” said Mr Black.

“The com­bi­na­tion of the great weather sup­port­ing sea­sonal trade... aug­mented in Eng­land (at least) by Mr Southgate in­spired get-to­geth­ers, fam­ily and friends food and booze in­fused... makes for a gen­er­ally favourable trad­ing pic­ture to our minds.”

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