Tesco ordered by court to halt plans to cut thousands of pounds from workers' pay

A union has won a court order to stop Tesco forcing up to 290 workers at its Livingston distribution depot onto a new contract which would cut their pay by between £4,000 and £19,000 a year.

Up to 290 staff at Tesco's Livingston distribution centre are affected by the pay cut plan

Retail trade union Usdaw was awarded an interdict in the Court of Session in Edinburgh against the company’s “fire and rehire” policy which has been widely condemned across the political spectrum.

The judgement, which applies to the Livingston site only, means that Tesco is prohibited from unilaterally removing the “retained pay” element of workers’ wages as planned. The cash was awarded about 10 years ago and staff were told it would continue as long as they remained in the same role. But the company recently announced workers must accept a new contract or be fired and have to reapply for their jobs.

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The union said it would continue to fight for a similar result for its members at other distribution centres across the UK.

Usdaw national officer Joanne McGuinness said: “We are very pleased to have secured this victory for our members who faced a huge cut in wages after Tesco moved to renege on a longstanding collective agreement made in good faith. It is a major victory in the fight against ‘fire and rehire’ tactics, which are now being used by too many businesses.

“The court delivered a temporary prohibition and we are now calling on the company to withdraw its plans at all sites. We stand ready to seek a permanent interdict for Livingston and a High Court injunction for the other sites to defend this unfair pay cut for hundreds of key workers.

“Tesco can stop this now, by doing the right thing and withdrawing their threat to these longstanding staff, who have worked throughout the pandemic to keep stores stocked with the essential items we all rely on.”

Livingston SNP MP Hannah Bardell described Tesco’s behaviour towards its workers as “utterly sickening”. The company was also criticised by Lothian Labour MSP Neil Findlay and Lothian Tory MSP Miles Briggs.

Tesco said it was surprised by the court’s decision and was looking into how it could legally challenge the order. The company has said it is withdrawing the “retained pay” element of salary because most of its 16,000 distribution staff do not receive it.

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