Asda checkout staff in equal pay fight: Female workers may challenge bosses in court over claims men are paid more

More ‘equal pay for work of equal value’ lunacy – our thanks to Ian for this. Take a minute or two to checkout (ahem) some of the perceptive comments.

At Asda, 60% of checkout operators are women, while 80% of warehouse operatives are men. A law firm is claiming the work of the former is equivalent to the latter, and seeking equal pay.

This is sheer lunacy. I break my groceries shopping into two or three weekly shops, often at a local Tesco. I scan the items through myself, because (a) there’s rarely a queue to use the self-service machines, and (b) I find it’s quicker. The latter is an indication of how ‘skilled’ the work of a checkout operator is.

My first job after leading university, in 1979 – the same glorious years Margaret Thatcher was first elected, the first of three general elections in which I voted for her – was as a manufacturing graduate trainee with Beecham, at what was then the largest toiletries factory in Europe, in Maidenhead – known locally as ‘The Brylcreem Factory’. The programme lasted over two years. and over that period I spent time in a wide variety of departments including Goods Inwards and Despatch. The work in those departments could involve taking goods from lorries (or putting them onto lorries) in the depths of winter or the height of summer. The managers of those departments always relished putting their graduate trainees to work outside in the coldest weather, I recall. It could be physically demanding work, and often entailed unsocial hours. Many of the workers operated fork lift trucks and similar expensive bits of equipment, both a skilled job, and one where great care had to be taken not to injure (or kill) people.

The idea that such jobs are equivalent to those of checkout operators is absurd beyond belief. If women want the higher pay that warehouse operatives get, then they should do those jobs. It really is that simple. Nobody is stopping them. It won’t take them long to realise the jobs are a damned sight more demanding and skilled than sitting on their backsides, passing bags of crisps over a sheet of glass, and checking that a ‘beep’ has registered a sale. Hell, it took me one minute to learn how to do that job, and I manage to do it standing up.

About Mike Buchanan

I'm a men's human rights advocate, writer, and publisher. My primary focus is leading the political party I launched in 2013, Justice for Men & Boys (and the women who love them). I still work actively on two campaigns I launched in early 2012, Campaign for Merit in Business and the Anti-Feminism League. In 2014 I launched The Alternative Sexism Project, aiming to raise public understanding that the sexism faced by men and boys has far more grievous consequences than the sexism faced by women and girls.
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  • And the people adjudicating on this will most likely be men or women who will be oblivious to those men and that work. Such jobs are both literally and metaphorically invisible, whilst check out is something probably every person has seen if not experienced. As you say the “equivalence” game is a scam reinforced by expectations that men will do hard work and “suck up” the hardship. Not least because it is often done in the background or outside. While more “public” jobs in shops, receptions of businesses, “hospitality” are valued simply because they are seen. It is striking how much “blue collar” work has become “glass cellar”work. Slowly men are waking up to this , as instanced by a win in Newcastle by male caretakers who were sidelined by one of these “equal value” cases. One thing I hope the party can do is point out that men can use this Equality Act too. And that men use it.

  • End result as in more and more areas: MEN, not women, say to hell with this.

    To hell with working harder, being more competitive, more sacrifices, more effort, more stress if those who do less get subsidized for their envy.

    No way. You won ladies. Like Napolean in Moscow— you have the city, but NOBODY is here to deal with.

    And winter is coming.

  • it really reminds me of the times growing up in a communist country. Everyone realized it was pointless,even counter-productive to actually try hard at work, as even the biggest slouchers got the same pay. I’m afraid women in the west are bringing these same socialist methods to all of Europe,this time around.
    As we all know,this type of economic system can only end one way. It is called bankrupcy.
    If you check out the economic figures of today,we are not that far off, already.

  • i used to work in a tesco warehouse… and i am currently a lorry driver for a parcels firm. i definitely worked harder than a checkout operator as i was humping and dumping for 55 hours a week, mostly nights, often cold, with bonus payments for speed/ efficiency. made a lot of money too. the number of women present could be counted on one hand (out of a couple of hundred per shift). how this is to be compared to 16 hours sat on your arse in the warm is anyones guess. equality? you can have it ladies…. i’ll just check your shopping through now…..

  • Are women prevented from applying to work in warehouse – no? Then cased closed. Or it would be closed IF we lived in a genuine fair society.