Cumbria County Council settles equal pay dispute with 1,800 female staff

Nearly 1,800 women pursuing equal-pay claims against Cumbria County Council have accepted offers to settle, worth an average of £12,079.

The council wrote to 2,147 cooks, cleaners, care workers and lollipop ladies in September in an attempt to end the long-running dispute. The deadline for acceptances passed last week.

The council says 816 Unison members and 939 from the GMB took up its offer and have received compensation totalling £21.2m, reports the Cumbria News and Star.

Councillor Liz Mallinson, Cabinet member for organisational development, said: “For most of our claimants, this draws a line under a long-running period of uncertainty. I’m delighted so many people have decided our offers were good and fair ones.”

The women argued they were employed on less-favourable terms than men doing equivalent work, with some claims for compensation going back to 1997. A tribunal in 2006 backed their case in principle.

Women who refused the offer will have to wait for their cases to go to an employment tribunal next year.

The estimated liability across all local UK authorities to harmonise pay and conditions for all workers is £5bn.

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