Female staff at Cumbria County Council are step closer to receiving multi-million pound equal pay cash

More than 1,300 female council workers are a step closer today to receiving payouts that could amount to £60m in a mass equal pay tribunal ruling.

The women, who are employed by Cumbria County 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.

The council appealed the decision, but a tribunal has now ruled in favour of the union’s method of calculating back pay.

Dave Prentis, Unison general secretary, said: “We’re obviously delighted that the tribunal is making Cumbria stump up the back pay that is owed. But it is regrettable that the council would not settle through valid negotiation; instead we all had to invest time, money and stress in going through the legal system.”

The case is a result of historically agreed bonus schemes; some male employees enjoyed bonuses that female staff in equivalent jobs did not. Others enjoyed enhancements to hourly rates of pay when working weekends or evenings, when women working similar hours received only a basic rate of pay.

Unison argued successfully to a tribunal in autumn 2005 that this was an unlawful breach of the 1970 Equal Pay Act.

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