The retailer is asking five judges from the UK’s highest court to quash previous decisions, including a 2019 verdict from the appeals court which ruled in favor of store employees and said they could compare themselves to workers at the highest paid deposits.
Asda, which belongs to the American retailer Walmart, does not believe that workers in retail trade have the right to compare themselves to better paid warehouse workers.
The case, the UK’s largest demand for equal pay in the private sector, is heard for two days, with judges listening to the arguments by video. The judges are not expected to make a decision until the end of the year.
Lord Pannick QC, who heads Asda’s legal team, told the judges on Monday that the case depended on whether the employees of the store were “in the same job” as those of the distribution depots of the business.
“Asda contends that the answer is no,” Pannick said in a written summary of the case.
He said that workers’ conditions of employment depended on the “establishment” in which they worked.
“The different types of establishments operate in different geographic areas, in different industries and with different wage-setting processes,” said Pannick.
Asda’s employees are represented by the Leigh Day law firm, mandated by the GMB union.
The workers hoped to win the fight, said Lauren Lougheed, labor law specialist at Leigh Day, and wanted to prove once and for all that the roles were comparable.
If the workers are successful, they ask the retailer for six years of backdated wages.
However, even if justices of the Supreme Court rule in favor of workers, lawyers for Leigh Day say their battle for equal pay will not end, as store employees will still have to show that retail and of distribution have equal value.
The dispute is considered a historic case, and the outcome will affect approximately 8,000 employees of other supermarkets, including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Co-op and Morrisons, who are also involved in equal pay disputes with their employers. .
Leigh Day said that if the five supermarkets lost workers’ complaints, they could face backdated payment claims totaling £ 8 billion.