I’m sure this will result in unforeseen consequences:
Supermarket giant Asda has lost an appeal in the latest development in a long-running legal dispute with staff over equal pay.
The decision means that lower paid shop staff, who are mostly women, can compare themselves with higher paid warehouse workers, who are mostly men.
The Employment Tribunal first ruled against Asda in October 2016. It said shop workers, who mainly work at check-outs or stacking shelves, could compare themselves with staff who work at warehouses.
It’s not over yet, though:
A ruling over whether the work is of equal value is likely to be in May.
There are three key stages in an equal pay case
– Are the jobs comparable?
– If the jobs are comparable, are they of equal value?
– If they are of equal value, is there a reason why the roles should not be paid equally?
I’ve worked on a shop floor and in a warehouse, and I’ve got to say I preferred the warehouse. Although the work is more physical, colder, and you have to dodge forklifts and reversing lorries, you don’t have to mind your language nor deal with idiotic members of the public. You can also goof off more easily: one of the worst things about working a shop floor is you can’t start loafing in the quiet times. Warehouse work tends to be peaks and troughs.
I expect there are women who work in Asda’s warehouses, just as there are men who work their shop floors. As Asda says:
“Our hourly rates of pay in stores are the same for female and male colleagues and this is equally true in our depots.”
The myth of the gender pay gap has long been debunked, and all but the dimmest of feminists are beginning to realise the differences in pay are down to the choices men and women make. Across the population, men are more likely to do dangerous jobs, work nights, work outside, and do deeply unpleasant jobs which women avoid – all of which attract a wage premium. So what we’re seeing now are campaigns for those jobs women choose being recognised by law as of “equal value” to those men opt for. It is quite easy to determine whether working in a warehouse carries equal value as working on the till – see which role requires the higher salary to attract suitable applicants – but this is producing the wrong result. Enter the ambulance chasers:
Leigh Day represents more 30,000 shop floor staff from the big four supermarkets – Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Morrisons – in similar cases.
This is the law firm which leads witch hunts against British soldiers who fought in Iraq. They believe the courts – rather than the market – is the true arbiter of a job’s value, and will be hoping to follow up on the success of this case, which they also brought:
A group of female workers in the West Midlands have won a Court of Appeal decision on equal pay claims.
The case involves 174 former employees of Birmingham City Council.
The women, who worked as cooks, cleaners, caterers and care staff, claimed they were excluded from getting the bonuses handed out to employees in traditionally male-dominated jobs.
Then there’s this:
It took more than six years and a hard-fought court battle for Joan Clulow, 72, and Pamela Saunders, 67, to finally receive compensation for the years they had been underpaid as home care workers.
“The pay was diabolical for what we did,” said Saunders, a carer employed by Birmingham council for 30 years.
When the council finally graded jobs, it put theirs on a par with mainly male road cleaners and refuse collectors whose wages were boosted by bonuses, shift payments and attendance allowances. “We were gutted,” said Clulow, a home carer for 25 years.
“It hurt because we worked that hard. Christmas Day, Boxing Day, night time if they needed us. We never refused,” she added.
Saunders said: “We couldn’t believe it. Don’t get me wrong, the men do work hard, but we did work hard. And I couldn’t see a lot of them doing what we do. Would they empty a commode, wash somebody down covered in mess, go into a house full of maggots and clean it up? But I’ll tell you what, I would have gone and done a dustman’s job for the day.”
Her remarks reminds me of this post, in which I noted some women don’t seem to understand exactly what “male” jobs entail. Does this Saunders really think men who clean streets and run garbage trucks couldn’t go into a house full of maggots and clean it up, or empty a commode? I think this Asda case might stem in part from the fact supermarket warehouses are no longer situated beside the retail outlets, leaving staff with little idea of what sort of work their colleagues are doing.
What will be interesting to see is how Asda and the other supermarkets handle this. If the courts rule that shop floor and warehouse work are comparable and of equal value, is there any reason why employees couldn’t be required to rotate between them? If Mrs Saunders would gladly have done a dustman’s job for a day (but for some reason didn’t switch to this more lucrative line of employment), would Janet from the deli mind humping boxes in the warehouse at 5am when the first lorry-load of vegetables comes in? I’m sure Barry who normally stacks pallets wouldn’t mind a turn on the till when the temperature drops below freezing in the yard.
We’re going to see a lot more of this, as progressives attempt to close the wage gap by equating wholly different jobs, supported by idiot judges and politicians. It will be interesting to see how the market responds, and what the unintended consequences are.