Unions may face more than 1,000 sex discrimination claims

Two of the UK’s largest unions could face more than 1,000 claims of sex discrimination potentially costing millions of pounds in damages.

Employment lawyer Stefan Cross told The Herald newspaper in Scotland that Unison and the GMB unions could receive compensation claims worth millions of pounds from female council workers alleging they were not properly represented during equal pay negotiations.

He has issued the unions with documents questioning the treatment of women in wage talks.

“The questionnaires have been served on various officials asking why these female workers have been treated in this way,” Cross told The Herald. “This is the first step and we will consider the reply. We will consider our action and, if appropriate, seek authority to pursue these claims.”

A spokesman for Unison dismissed the cases as opportunism.

“Officials will respond appropriately and we will be advising them accordingly – this is simply another part of the attempt by commercial lawyers to enrich themselves,” he said.

“We will be defending these cases. Unison is proud of its record in campaigning and negotiating for a full solution to the equal pay issue rather than the partial solution advocated by no-win, no-fee lawyers.”

The GMB also said it would vigorously defend any case that arose.

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