Our thanks to Nigel for this. The report by a BBC “business correspondent” – a woman, what are the chances? – relegates “balance” to the end, with this:
A Tesco spokesperson said: “The jobs in our stores and distribution centres are different. These roles require different skills and demands which lead to variations in pay – but this has absolutely nothing to do with gender.
“We reward our colleagues fairly for the jobs they do and work hard to ensure that the pay and benefits we offer are fair, competitive and sustainable.
“These claims are extremely complex and will take many years to reach a conclusion. We continue to strongly defend these claims.”
Checkout jobs are non-jobs. I check out my own shopping at supermarkets when I can and do it faster then the checkout “workers”, which I couldn’t claim for the warehouse staff. The two jobs are as “comparable” as chalk and cheese. The result of this madness will be a big decline in the number of workers – mainly women – doing the non-jobs. Unemployed, the women will then have to rely financially more on their male partners. So everybody wins, right? Nigel writes:
As the article says, such claims will take many years. And the battle will be more about back pay for ex-employees than the current ones. Because I’m sure the big supermarkets will be looking to reduce their exposure by pushing ahead with deliveries and self-service in stores. The net result being of course that the range of jobs with “family friendly” shifts and light duties, sitting at a checkout and chatting while scanning, will reduce. I cannot think my local supermarkets are very different but already the balance seems to be shifting simply because most of the shelf filling etc. has always been done mainly by men and the number of checkouts has been reducing as the self-service options have taken over.
I expect there to be howls from feminists about employment options for women, as online and delivery services have expanded and all forms of retailers have reduced numbers of stores. Only in public services was the idea of “equivalent value” tenable, for the simple reason that public services are not constrained to be efficient or flexible. Clearly other businesses have a simple measure of “value” in terms of effect on profits. If forced to pay more for labour… well, those jobs will go. And of course there are the surprise cases still going via European Courts!
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