Record-breaking equal pay claim begins

The UK’s biggest ever equal pay case for female county council workers is due to start today in Carlisle.

Two unions – Unison and GMB – have lodged claims for about 2,300 women after it emerged that male road workers formerly employed by Cumbria County Council were paid more for what lawyers say was comparable work.

Union officials said that some of the women involved, who include care workers, school cooks, and dinner ladies, could get back-pay of up to £24,000 each if they win the case against the council.

In total, union officials believe the case could be worth around £15m for all of the women involved.

Despite lengthy negotiations, the two sides have failed to reach a settlement and a tribunal will begin today and is expected to last for several weeks.

The case follows a £100m equal pay settlement for female hospital workers at North Cumbria Acute Hospitals NHS Trust earlier this year.

In April, 1,500 workers accepted an offer which will compensate them for up to 14 years of NHS pay rates which had unfairly favoured men.

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