Morrisons could face strike action after the GMB union alleged that the retailer was discriminating against female employees by offering them an inferior redundancy package than that offered to male workers.
As part of a post-merger redundancy plan announced in September, up to 175 of the 225 administrators at the former Safeway finance centre at Crossgate in South Shields are to lose their jobs as roles are relocated to the Morrisons HQ in Bradford.
The employees were told on 4 November that they would receive statutory redundancy pay only, the GMB said. It added that the retailer was discriminating against the women as it recently agreed to enhanced redundancy terms for 2,500, mostly male, depot workers.
GMB northern region secretary, Tom Brennan, said: “This sex discrimination is completely unacceptable and strike action or litigation will follow if the company persists with this plan.”
Morrisons said it would honour contracts that it inherited in the Safeway merger, adding that the GMB union was not recognised at the Crossgate site.
“As a result of our takeover of Safeway in 2004, we inherited a number of distribution centres, while the finance centre at Crossgate was formerly operated by Hewitts before being brought in-house,” a spokesman said.
“We will fully honour the contracts, agreements, statutes and policies that we inherited. Consultation on potential redundancies at our finance centre at Crossgate is being handled by senior management in accordance with good practice and in collaboration with recognised trade union there – Usdaw.”