UK retailer Tesco faces £4 billion claim over unequal pay for women

Lawyers argue that Tesco’s in-store employees, who are largely women, are paid far less than those in the male-dominated distribution centers, even though their work is of equal value to the company.
Updated 07 February 2018

UK retailer Tesco faces £4 billion claim over unequal pay for women

LONDON: British supermarket chain Tesco is facing legal claims that it is paying women less than men for work of equal value, in a case that lawyers estimate could ultimately cost it as much as £4 billion (SR20.9 billion) in compensation payments.
Law firm Leigh Day said Wednesday it has begun filing claims with the employee conciliation service Acas on behalf of 100 women, but the case could eventually apply to more than 200,000 Tesco workers.
“We believe an inherent bias has allowed store workers to be underpaid for many years,” said Paula Lee of Leigh Day. “In terms of equal worth to the company there really should be no argument that workers in stores, compared to those working in distribution centers, contribute at least equal value to the vast profits made by Tesco.”
The lawyers argue that in-store employees, who are largely women, are paid far less than those in the male-dominated distribution centers, even though their work is of equal value to the company.
Tesco said it had not yet seen the claim, but that it works hard “to make sure all our colleagues are paid fairly and equally for the jobs they do.”


Tankers defer retrofits to cash in on freight rates

Updated 19 October 2019

Tankers defer retrofits to cash in on freight rates

  • The rates for chartering a supertanker from the US Gulf Coast to Singapore hit record highs of more than $17 million and a record $22 million to China earlier this week

SINGAPORE: Tankers that had been scheduled to install emissions-cutting equipment ahead of stricter pollution standards starting in 2020 have deferred their visits to the dry docks to capitalize on an unexpected surge in freight rates, three trade sources said.

US sanctions on subsidiaries of vast Chinese shipping fleet Cosco in September sparked a surge in global oil shipping rates as traders scrambled to find non-blacklisted vessels to get their oil to market.

The rates for chartering a supertanker from the US Gulf Coast to Singapore hit record highs of more than $17 million and a record $22 million to China earlier this week.

By comparison, prior to the sanctions, shipping crude from the US Gulf to China cost around $6 million-$8 million.

The extraordinary spike in freight rates proved too good to miss for some shipowners who were due to send vessels to the dry docks for lengthy retrofitting and maintenance work.

“We can confirm several owners have postponed dry docking earlier scheduled for the months of October and November to take advantage of the skyrocketing freight rates,” said Rahul Kapoor, head of maritime and trade research at IHS Markit in Singapore.

The shortage of ships to move crude oil was so acute that some shipowners also switched from carrying so-called “clean” or refined fuels like gasoline to “dirty” cargoes that include crude oil, despite the costs of having to clean them later.

“Current rate levels are a no-brainer for pushing back scrubber retrofitting,” said Kapoor.

Starting Jan. 1, 2020, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) requires the use of marine fuel with a sulfur limit of 0.5 percent, down from 3.5 percent currently, significantly inflating shippers’ fuel bills.

Only ships fitted with expensive exhaust cleaning systems, known as scrubbers, which can remove sulfur from emissions, will be allowed to continue burning cheaper high-sulfur fuels.

Ships must be sidelined for up to 60 days for fitting these, according to IHS Markit and DNV GL.

While freight rates have abruptly come off their recent highs, shipowners can still profit from the higher charges.

“One cargo loading at current elevated rate levels can not only finance the scrubber capex, but also account for extra costs incurred to install the scrubber at a later date,” said Kapoor, referring to the capital expenditure of fitting the scrubber.

Freight rates are expected to hold firm for the rest of the year.

“With seasonal demand support and tanker supply deficit still pronounced, we expect (fourth-quarter) tanker freight rates to stay elevated and end the year on a high note,” Kapoor said.