Landmark equal pay decision looms

Female staff at a hospital in Carlisle are close to securing a £15m equal
pay award, according to Unison.

Five hundred female nurses, cooks, ancillary and domestic staff at
Cumberland Infirmary claim they are paid significantly less than male workers
with similar levels of qualification – up to 50 per cent in some cases.

The decision of an 18-month independent assessment ordered by the Employment
Tribunal is expected soon. Staff are set to receive large pay rises as well as
10 years’ back-dated pay, which will amount to £70,000 for some.

Unison claims it has contributed to the Department of Health embarking on a
large-scale review of NHS pay structures, and it could set a precedent on equal
pay in the NHS.

Paul Marks, national head of health for Unison, said, "There is a
growing awareness of the vulnerability of the NHS to pay claims which has
culminated in a movement towards an examination of the system."

Keith McIntosh, acting director of human resources for the North Cumbria
Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, said, "We have had around 500 equal value
claims lodged against us on a gradual basis over the past two- and-a-half years
by Unison and GMB. We await the outcome of the independent assessment."

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