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Scottish council faces legal action over outstanding equal pay awards

Fresh legal proceedings are to commence against Fife Council over the non-payment of equal pay settlements for over 60 workers, GMB has announced.

Yesterday the union notified council leaders of the planned legal action, after had been pressing them for months over the reasons for the failure to pay out claims.

The claims, many of which were awarded over two years ago, were part of the second wave of equal pay claims in Fife Council.

However, the union says that there has been no confirmation from council officials, meaning that claimants, mostly local home carers, cleaners and catering staff, are no nearer to receiving their compensation.

The council to date has paid out an estimated £80m in equal pay settlements to employees both past and present.

GMB Scotland organiser, Helen Meldrum, said: “For reasons which Fife Council cannot seem to explain to us, over 60 women are still waiting on the award of their equal pay settlement.

“This is nearly two years after the finalisation of the second wave claims against Fife Council and we have been left with little choice but to reclaim what is owed to our members through the courts.”

She continued: “In all likelihood the monies due to our members will amount to a few hundred thousand pounds; a drop in the ocean compared to the £80m paid out in equal pay settlements by the council.

“These women take care of our elderly and vulnerable, keep our kids fed and their schools clean and it is absolutely shameful that after decades of discrimination, council bosses are still stalling on the delivery of pay justice.”

Fife: 'No need' for fresh legal action

Sharon McKenzie, head of HR at Fife Council, told PSE: “Fife Council has worked diligently to resolve issues relating to settling claims and had not, until two weeks ago, been advised by the legal representatives of the GMB claimants that there were any outstanding issues.”

She also continued to say that the last communications from the council’s legal firm was some months ago, and did not raise any issues regarding outstanding claims, although she explained that the solicitor who had been working with the council had left the firm, which resulted in some difficulties. 

She continued: “As agreed, the local branch has now provided us with detail of the claims they have identified as outstanding and we are working through them to identify a resolution.

“In terms of due process, we are obliged to communicate directly with GMB’s solicitors rather than the local branch and we would encourage the local branch to respect this so that there is a single point of contact for queries.

“These issues relate to claims already with the tribunal and the solicitors acting for the GMB recently agreed that the cases be sisted for a further period during which we will look at any and all queries.

“There is therefore no need for ‘fresh legal action’ as these cases are already with the tribunal and will be addressed in the next few days.”

Top image: HPuschmann

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