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Women workers rally as fight for equal pay in Asda escalates

Monday, November 6, 2023

Women working in Asda stores around Scotland rallied today as their battle for equal pay escalates.

Staff from Dundee, Perth, and Edinburgh travelled to the demonstration at the Asda Superstore, in Govan, Glasgow, as GMB Scotland steps up the campaign for fair pay.

The rally is part of a national day of action and signals a new phase of the long-running fight for women working in Asda stores to be paid the same as male colleagues in distribution centres earning £2 an hour more.

Asda is now facing the largest ever private sector equal pay claim from 50,000 current and former workers and Robert Deavy, GMB Scotland organiser, says it is time the company did the right thing.

He said: “Women’s work in Asda and elsewhere has been undervalued too long and it is beyond time for that to change.

“Asda must understand this issue is not going away and our members are not going to be silent.

“The company should stop spending money on lawyers and start discussing how to pay their women staff what they deserve.

“It must understand that every obstacle placed in their way only makes our members more determined.”

Two years ago, the Supreme Court upheld an earlier tribunal rulings that lower-paid shop staff, who are mostly women, can compare their roles with the jobs warehouse workers, who are mostly men and better paid.

The national day of action by GMB members in the store coincide with an annual milestone of inequality as the mostly male distribution workforce earn what the predominantly female retail workforce will take home in a year 

More than 100,000 Asda retail workers will work ‘for free’ from today when compared with their colleagues in depots, the union says.

November 6, dubbed "Asda Equal Pay Day" by the union, is the day the mostly male workforce in distribution will have already earned what the predominantly female retail workforce will take home for the entire year.

This means retail staff face 39 working days before Christmas where they will effectively be paid nothing, compared to their distribution colleagues. 

Asda is currently facing the largest ever private sector equal pay claim, with approximately 50,000 current and former workers suing the company. 

A landmark hearing takes place in September which will have huge implications across the entire retail sector.  

Nadine Houghton, GMB National Officer, said: “It’s scandalous that up to 100,000 Asda retail workers will essentially be grafting for free for the rest of the year. 

“The entire retail sector has been built on the structural undervaluing of women's work - but GMB members are changing this with their historic fight for equal pay in Asda. 

Asda can afford to pay its women workers what they are owed; the cost of settling the equal pay claims is about £2.1 billion – exact same value as the £2.1 billion dividend declared by by Asda Group Limited in 2022.  

Instead of taking money out of ASDA it is time for the owners - TDR Capital and the Issa Brothers  to get round the table and pay women workers their due."