The Supreme Court has granted the Union of Shop Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw) permission to pursue its ‘fire and rehire’ case against Tesco.

The union, which is represented by Thompsons Solicitors, is set to proceed with the case, which claims Tesco wants to fire and rehire its employees in order to remove their entitlement to a long-term financial benefit known as Retained Pay.

This follows a landmark legal victory in February by Tesco employees at its Daventry and Lichfield distribution centres against the Big 4 grocer’s decision to “dismiss a number of its staff and seek to re-engage them on inferior terms and conditions.”

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The High Court found that as both parties had agreed Retained Pay was “permanent” and “guaranteed for life”, so an injunction was approved to avert Tesco from serving notice.

Nevertheless, in July, the Court of Appeal governed those references to Retained Pay being “permanent” only meant this was certain for the life of a specific contract of employment, meaning the injunction was lifted.

As a result, Usdaw is pursuing its court battle against the top retailer as its national officer Joanne McGuinness has said it will “exhaust every avenue to protect our members’ terms and conditions of employment.”

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She said the union was “shocked when Tesco adopted fire and rehire tactics” and that it was “very disappointed” by the outcome at the Court of Appeal.”

“It has always been clear to us what we agreed with Tesco in respect of our members in receipt of Retained Pay. That is that they would have a right to this payment for as long as they remained employed by Tesco in their current role.”

“The agreement was reached at a time when the organisation needed these individuals to remain in post as it could not have been operationally effective if they had chosen to leave. These workers agreed to remain in the business and relocate on the basis of the guarantee of these payments when they otherwise may have taken redundancy.”

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Thompsons Solicitors trade union specialist, Neil Todd said: “We are delighted to have been given permission by the Supreme Court to proceed with this important case. The fight against fire and rehire is a pivotal one for the whole trade union movement.

“Tesco faces a fight as Usdaw is resolute that the workers concerned were given clear commitments by Tesco that Retained Pay was to be a permanent feature of their income.”

Source: Grocery Gazette

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