Tesco supermarket worker reveals what it’s like to work in store during COVID-19

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Jan Wilkes works at a Tesco store in Hertfordshire and is part of the equal pay claim. Here, she explains how working in store during Covid-19 has made her job even more demanding.

I have always been proud to work for Tesco but the environment has changed over the years. We used to get double pay if we worked on Sundays, which we don’t get anymore, and it was quite a pleasant place to work.

Now it feels different. I used to feel appreciated but at the moment that isn’t the case.

At the start of the pandemic there was an evening where staff were told about measures that would be put in place to help protect us, but I wasn’t working that night and nobody has spoken to me about it since.

At first, I had to wear my own gloves because we weren’t given any. We have hand sanitiser now, but we didn’t for the first few weeks.

I work nights and, as the situation with Coronavirus got worse, Tesco decided to close the shop at 10pm. In the first couple of weeks when the store was still open at night it was horrendous.

We had customers fighting and getting into the cages to pull products out before we’d had chance to unpack them.

Even with the store closed at night, it’s still stressful. Our store has dotcom, these are the people who pick up online orders for the customers. Those orders have gone through the roof.

Dotcom come in at 2am when we’re still filling the shelves so there’s about five or six of us down an aisle at one time, there’s people everywhere. It’s difficult to keep a foot apart, never mind two metres.

Dealing with all this and not feeling supported is demoralising. Yes, Tesco is giving us 10% on the hours we’re working and that is welcome, but even with that bonus, we are still paid less that the men who work in the distribution centres. With all that we’re dealing with it’s hard to believe we’re still not paid the same as them.

They might have to do heavy lifting loading the cages, but it seems forgotten that we have to do the same in reverse when stock arrives in store.

Plus, we deal with customers, security issues, tagging and a lot of other tasks that aren’t required of distribution centre staff.

It’s upsetting to think that shop floor workers aren’t seen as worthy or valuable enough to be given the same pay.  It makes me feel sad that it took a pandemic to highlight that we are key workers and that the work we do is of real value.

That’s why it was important to me to join Leigh Day’s legal claim to challenge the unjust treatment of supermarket store workers.

We’re all on the same page, Tesco say they want everybody to be equal and that’s what we want too. All I want is to be rewarded fairly for the job I do and to feel we are as important as the distribution centre employees. After all, it’s our combined efforts that give Tesco the capability to operate as well as they do.

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