EU top court supports Tesco workers

Photo: EPA

Former and current employees of the UK retailer Tesco won a key support from the top EU court, Reuters reported. The dispute which has gained pace is related to standards for equal payment. Tesco attracted the attention as some 6,000 current or former employees took their appeals to an employment tribunal in Watford.

They stated that the Tesco shop workers who are predominantly women did not receive equal pay for equal work in comparison with distribution workers who appear to be mostly men - since February 2018. That was in violation with EU and UK laws. The shop staff argued the firm should be seen as a single entity in terms of employment conditions. Tesco argued that an EU law defining equal pay for equal work, or work of equal value, was not directly applicable in this case.

The UK tribunal sought guidance from the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice, Europe's highest, which rejected Tesco's arguments. "The principle, laid down by EU law, of equal pay for male and female workers can be relied upon directly, in respect both of 'equal work' and of 'work of equal value', in proceedings between individuals," the judges said. Tesco said the jobs in its stores and distribution centres were different and hence the different pay. The Watford tribunal will now have to take the CJEU ruling into account when it decides on the case. The CJEU said it had jurisdiction over the case in accordance with Britain's withdrawal deal with the EU. The CJEU ruling is final and cannot be appealed.

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