Women scoop council millions in equal pay victory

Female staff working for Birmingham City Council have won an equal pay claim that solicitors say could pay out as much as £600m.

Female staff working for Birmingham City Council have won an equal pay claim that solicitors say could pay out as much as £600m.
Around 5,000 female workers, including cleaners, cooks and care assistants, claimed they were subject to pay discrimination on the basis of their sex when it was discovered that the Council were paying male refuse collectors bonuses, allowing them to earn more than £50,000 per year – a benefit not afforded to women on similar pay grades.
The ruling means that women working for Birmingham City Council are now entitled to earn the same pay as men working as gardeners, refuse collectors and grave diggers.
UNISON, the public-sector union who backed the women’s pay claim, called the ruling a ‘victory’. Commenting, general secretary Dave Prentis said: "For too long Birmingham City Coucil has failed to live up to its responsibilities to pay these women workers fairly. This has cost council taxpayers’ huge amounts of money in legal fees. This money would have been better spent on providing vital local services, many of which are facing damaging cuts."
Talking exclusively to Workingmums, Emma Hawksworth, a solicitor and expert in equal pay claims at Russell Jones & Walker, said: "This is a welcome decision in the struggle to have ‘women’s work’ recognised as equal to men’s. In some of the cases under scrutiny here the council was paying men 50% more than women at the same grade. The case illustrates how pay inequalitites can be deeply ingrained in pay schemes: male workers in this case were being paid additional bonus payments for doing their normal duties.
"This mirrors our experience in that pay differences are often caused by different bonus or allowance schemes which are not always justifiable. Where working women feel they are being disadvantaged in this way, they have the right to ask questions of their employer about their pay structure, to ensure that they are not missing out because of perceptions as to what work deserves special treatment and what doesn’t."





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