Cumbria County Council fails to overturn pay discrimination ruling for female workers at Employment Appeal Tribunal

An Employment Appeal Tribunal has upheld its decision concerning a pay discrimination claim for 1,300 female council workers at Cumbria County Council.

The women, who were employed by the council as care assistants, home carers, kitchen assistants, cooks and night care assistants won their claim of pay discrimination at a tribunal in March 2006, backed by trade union Unison.

Cumbria Council launched an appeal in May arguing that the tribunal had misunderstood the evidence and that the council had been treated unfairly in relation to the defences it had put forward.

The employer also accused the tribunal of being wrong to decide that the productivity-based bonus schemes that it had been paying to male employees, were not justified.

The council workers could stand to receive payouts amounting to £60m.

Jack Richardson, Cabinet member responsible for equal pay and equal value at Cumbria County Council, said: “It is unfortunate that we are not yet in a position to know the precise financial implications for the county council in settling equal pay claims, but we have identified cost pressures of £50m and have been planning for this in our ongoing budget process.

Richardson said the council had already set aside £21m to cover its eventual liabilities on equal pay and was budgeting for future savings to be put aside.

Dave Prentis, general secretary for Unison, said: “The writing has been on the wall since the employment tribunal decision last year and the council should face up to its responsibilities. Stop wasting time and more council taxpayers’ money on costly legal arguments and give these women the money owing to them.

“Unison has fought long and hard to achieve equal pay and we have been successful in several ground-breaking cases on behalf of thousands of women members.

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