Seventeen Tesco employees are taking legal action against the supermarket giant on grounds that the corporation has committed pay discrimination by reducing the pay of workers contracted to work unconventional shifts, such as weekends, bank holidays and nights. This change began in February 2016 following the introduction of a new pay deal that was arranged for Tesco workers based on an agreement with the Shopworkers Trade Union’.
This means that since last July workers of unconventional hours are no longer eligible for the double-time pay they are long accustomed to. The seventeen claimants are all long-term workers employed by the retailer since at least the late 1990s.
The new pay deal of last February provides new benefits for Tesco workers, with a 3.1% pay-rise existing for all employees. Such an alteration means that the average Tesco wage is now £7.62; a change that makes the business one of the most financially lucrative employers in the retail industry.
As many as thirty-eight thousand workers are believed to have seen their pay affected in some way since the change; a figure that Tesco disputes. Although the higher number of Tesco workers with more recent contracts will benefit from the alteration, the issue is that long-serving employees will experience a decrease for this to happen.
Many of them have based their lifestyle and work arrangements to maintain the expectations of their existing pay and a change to this system could bring hardships to these workers, thus causing workplace discrimination. Others simply feel they have earned their favourable pay arrangements due to the long service they have provided, and that their loyalty and dedication is disregarded as a result.
Tesco believes the changes made are fully justified as they were arranged with the involvement of the shopworkers’ trade union. A spokesman for the company released the following statement in response to the recent legal action:
“Earlier this year we announced a pay increase of up to 3.1% for colleagues working in our stores across the UK, in addition to a 5% turnaround bonus. As part of the pay negotiations we also agreed to simplify premium payments to ensure a fair and consistent approach for all colleagues. The minority of colleagues who were negatively impacted by this change were supported with an agreed lump sum transition payment.”
Legal action from employees over fair pay is a burning issue in retail employment right now. Marks & Spencer is currently undergoing a similar form of legal action to Tesco from its employees after the company was accused of causing a reduction in the wages of shop-floor staff who work anti-social hours.