Asda bosses lost a Supreme Court equal pay battle with shop workers.
More than 40,000 Asda shopkeepers, around two-thirds of whom are women, brought with them claims to equal pay, according to which employees in distribution depots, most of whom are men, are wrongly paid more money.
According to Asda bosses, store jobs are not comparable to jobs in distribution centers.
The judges of the Supreme Court ruled against the Asda bosses on Friday.
They ruled that the shop workers were entitled to benchmark themselves with the sales force for equal pay.
An Asda spokesman said: “This decision relates to one phase of a complex case that is likely to take several years to complete. We defend these claims because the pay in our branches and distribution centers is the same for colleagues who do the same work regardless of their gender.
“Retail and distribution are very different sectors with different skills and pay rates. Asda has always paid colleagues the market price in those sectors and we remain confident in our case.”
Shop workers making claims are members of the GMB union, which welcomed the ruling as “amazing news”.
Susan Harris, GMB Legal Director, said, “This is amazing news and a massive win for Asda’s mostly female workshop staff.
“We are proud to have supported our members in this legal battle and to have helped them in their struggle for pay equity.
“Asda has wasted money on attorney’s bills chasing a lost cause and lost appeal on appeal while tens of thousands of retail workers are left out of their own pockets.
“We are now calling on Asda to sit down with us to reach an agreement on our members’ reimbursement – which could run into hundreds of millions of pounds.”