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Unison is taking Reading council to court today on behalf of more than 60 women it says are owed over £1.5m because they were paid less than their male colleagues for years.
Unison says the women – mostly care workers, cooks and administrators – are angry that seven years on from the council’s acceptance it had broken equal pay laws, none of them have received any backdated pay.
One of the women is owed as much as £47,000, with her remaining colleagues due an average of £10-15,000 each, says Unison which accuses the council of dragging its feet.
It will argue that because so much time has already passed, the low-paid women shouldn’t have to wait a moment longer for the wages they are owed.
It says the council has taken so long with these equal pay claims that one of the claimants has died since the case was lodged.
The women’s case is based on the fact that Reading council was employing men doing equivalent jobs to them but paying the men substantially more.
The case comes after thousands of women workers at Asda won the right to lodge the largest private sector equal pay claim last week. They are asking for pay for jobs on the shopfloor, done mainly by women, to be brought into line with jobs done in the warehouses, mainly by men.
The difference in pay between store and warehouse workers is between £1 and £3 an hour, according to law firm Leigh Day, which is representing the claimants. The firm, which is also representing women working at Sainsbury’s, says the ruling could have“far-reaching implications” for other retailers. Asda argue that the demands of the jobs are very different.