THE compensation fight for former Ethel Austin and Woolworths staff has moved a step forward.

Both had stores in Huddersfield employing dozens of people and shopworkers’ union Usdaw has taken up the fight.

Usdaw won compensation worth nearly £70m for 25,000 ex-employees of both companies, but about 1,200 former employees of Ethel Austin and 3,000 formerly with Woolworths were denied compensation because they worked in stores with fewer than 20 staff.

The decision was based on the current interpretation of UK law, but at the time they were greeted with outrage by ex-staff, customers and politicians.

Usdaw pledged to fight what it called an injustice and yesterday the Employment Appeal Tribunal granted Usdaw a full hearing likely to take place in the spring of next year.

John Gorle, Usdaw national officer said he was “absolutely delighted” with the decision, adding: “While our focus is on achieving a just settlement for our members formerly employed by Ethel Austin and Woolworths, this case could have far reaching implications for all workers facing redundancy, whether in the retail sector or wider economy.”