Birmingham grave diggers earned bonuses for no extra work

Male grave diggers employed by Birmingham city council earned bonuses regardless of whether they carried out extra work, a tribunal has heard.

Rick Powell, the principal crematoria officer at the local authority, confirmed that an individual grave digger’s bonus was paid for extra duties, whether he was at work or on holiday, reported the Birmingham Mail. A large proportion of female workers in equally-graded jobs picked up nothing, the court was told.

Grave diggers would receive bonuses worth up to 40% of their basic pay for taking on different roles that were not in their job descriptions, such as leading funeral services. But the court heard even if those workers were on leave, they would still be paid the rewards.

More than 4,000 council employees, predominantly women, are now fighting for equal pay compensation at the tribunal. Lawyers claim that for many years workers in male-dominated posts, such as grave digging, gardening and refuse collection, were paid bonuses for work equal to that delivered by cleaners, care workers and teaching assistants, who were not paid bonuses.

Powell admitted that discussions had taken place to abolish the bonus scheme and adopt the single status agreement on pay, to remove discrepancies in wages and enhancements. He blamed trade unions for holding up the process.

He said: “It was an unsatisfactory situation as it was wrong that some areas were receiving bonuses and some were not.”

Legal experts are now seeking up to £100,000 compensation for each client in back-dated bonus payments.

The tribunal continues.

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