Eight year pay battle to cost councils £37m

Millions of pounds in compensation will be paid out to thousands of women in the North East, after agreement was finally reached in an eight-year equal pay battle

The GMB and Unison unions have secured an agreement with five North East councils, which will cost the authorities a collective £37m, according to a report in local newspaper the Evening Chronicle.

But many more female cleaners, dinner ladies and lollipop ladies are still planning to take the councils to court to make sure they receive eight years of back pay they say is owed to them. If they are successful in their private litigation, the costs faced by local authorities across the North East will be pushed even higher.

GMB and Unison have been representing their female members who have paid less than their male counterparts since 1997.

The row is one faced by councils across the UK after a pay grading process revealed women manual workers were paid less than men in equivalent jobs.

In some cases women were being paid half the wage of male counterparts on the same grade but working elsewhere in the council.

Local councils in South Tyneside, Gateshead, North Tyneside, Durham County and Sunderland have reached an agreement worth an estimated collective £37m, with unions paying compensation of up to £2,000 per annum to affected staff.

In addition, each of the councils has agreed to start paying women equal pay to men through a new salary scheme. The start of the scheme varies for each council with some starting straight away, and others in 2007.

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