UK supermarket chain Asda has lost the equal pay case after the Court of Appeal upheld its ruling allowing store staff to compare their roles with those in the distribution centres.

This announcement follows the union for Asda workers GMB’s win in the Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal against Asda’s attempts to block the legal claims of tens of thousands of workers.

Commenting on the announcement, GMB general secretary Tim Roache said: “We welcome this decision, we’ll always pursue justice and equality for our members and this decision is undoubtedly the right one.

“We know we’re not all the way there, there are more hurdles to jump in this process and as always we remain ready to negotiate should Asda want to get round the table.”

“The tribunal has yet to consider whether the jobs are of equal value in terms of their demands.”

Last April, UK’s Sainsbury’s confirmed plans to merge with Asda owned by owned by US supermarket giant Walmart. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is reviewing the merger.

Asda was quoted by Reuters as saying: “We remain confident in our case. This appeal has caused no delay to the main case, which has been continuing in the employment tribunal.

“The tribunal has yet to consider whether the jobs are of equal value in terms of their demands, it is only if some jobs are of equal value that the tribunal will go on to consider the reasons for the pay differential between them.”

In another statement, GMB noted that the proposed merger between Sainsbury’s and Asda could result in the sell-off of 132 stores.

GMB national officer Gary Carter said:

“If 132 is the number CMA have in mind they leave consumers with less choice, cause large scale redundancies and leave local communities stripped of stores and jobs. GMB will not sit by and let stores and jobs go to the wall.”