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Tesco face a huge gender pay dispute

Shop worker in Sunderland could see big changes as one of the UK's biggest supermarkets faces a court case.

Tesco could end up with a 4-billion pound bill from what might be the UK's largest ever equal pay claim.

A group of mostly female shop assistants is taking action - saying they're earning 3 pounds an hour less than warehouse workers - who are predominantly men.

The supermarket says it works hard to ensure all staff are paid "fairly and equally".

Tesco has three sites in Sunderland, a Tesco Extra at Roker retail park and a Tesco Metro in the Bridges in the city centre, as well as a Tesco Esso Express in Silksworth.

According to Leigh Day solicitors, up to 200,000 mainly female store workers could be in line for payouts of around £20,000 each.

Lawyers argue those working in the predominantly male dominated distribution centres are paid considerably more than the largely female staffed Tesco stores, and may earn in excess of £11 an hour, compared to the average store staff earning around £8 per hour.

Paula Lee, the lawyer from the Employment Team at Leigh Day who is representing the Tesco women, said:

"We believe an inherent bias has allowed store workers to be underpaid for many years."

"In terms of equal worth to the company there really should be no argument that workers in stores, compared to those working in distribution centres, contribute at least equal value to the vast profits made by Tesco which last year had group sales of £49.9bn."

Ms Lee said the huge sums being paid to the company's management team were deeply at odds with those on the shop-floor who just want to be paid at the same rate as their male counterparts in other similar areas of the business. She added:

"According to the latest Annual Report from Tesco the remuneration package for the Chief Executive Officer and the Chief Financial Officer totalled £7.3m, yet figures show that Tesco employees are having to claim millions of pounds in working tax credits, paying people fairly benefits the whole of society."

"In the week where we have marked the 100 year anniversary since women began to get the vote, the time has come for companies and public organisations to have a long hard look at themselves, to see the inequality which is still deeply entrenched in their organisations."

Tesco have sent Sun FM a statement in which a Tesco spokesperson says:

“We are unable to comment on a claim that we have not received. Tesco has always been a place for people to get on in their career, regardless of their gender, background or education, and we work hard to make sure all our colleagues are paid fairly and equally for the jobs they do.”

They also say Tesco carefully consider any changes to pay in partnership with the Usdaw union and work to help colleagues reach their potential.