No compensation for Woolworths staff

Woolworths store in London Image copyright PA
Image caption Under UK law, small businesses are under no obligation to consult over redundancies

Thousands of people made redundant by the closure of Woolworths will not receive compensation, following a European Court of Justice ruling.

The decision applies to 3,200 people who worked in stores with fewer than 20 employees and also affects 1,200 ex-workers at clothing chain Ethel Austin.

Shopworkers' union Usdaw has been fighting for compensation since Woolworths collapsed in 2008.

Clothing chain Ethel Austin went out of business five years ago.

Under UK law, workers in smaller stores are not covered by any obligation to consult over redundancies and do not qualify for compensation.

'Totally bizarre'

Usdaw general secretary John Hannett said: "This decision marks the end of the road for our members from Woolworths and Ethel Austin seeking justice and they are heartbroken by today's verdict.

"Our case is morally and logically robust, so today's verdict is a kick in the teeth."

Barbara Wilson, who worked in the firm's store in St Ives, Cornwall, said: "It is totally bizarre that just because I worked in a store which employed 19 people, I should be treated differently.

"We did exactly the same job and everything was run at a national level - it just doesn't make any sense."

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