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Council faces fresh £5m legal action over equal pay on top of £80m bill settled so far

A council is facing another round of equal pay claims which could rack up around £5m in fines as a result of its reportedly “unjustifiable devaluation of women’s work.”

Fife Council in Scotland, which has already settled more than £80m worth of pay claims since 2004, is currently still trying to deal with the second wave of claimants, with many women – ranging from home carers to primary school caterer – still waiting for their payout.

But it may already be at risk of a third round of claims after the GMB union warned that legal action has been launched on behalf of 30 women. It is expected that some staff may be owed more than £2,000 in lost earnings in April 2016.

The union has written to the local authority’s chief executive, Steve Grimmond, and local political leaders to stress the urgency of the situation and demand that they learn the lessons of the previous equal pay scandal.

Its Scotland organiser, Helen Meldrum, said: “At a time when second wave equal pay claims are still being settled, a third wave of pay discrimination is opening up because of the council’s interpretation of its job evaluation process. It is astonishing.

“If a member of staff was at the top of the pay scale on their previous grade, backed by the length of service to qualify for that grading, then we believe they should be placed at the top of the scale on their new grade – not at the bottom or the middle.”

Anything contrary to that is “simply an unjustifiable devaluation of women’s work, skills and service,” added Meldrum. “This should be a very straightforward process but it seems the council has failed to learn the lessons of the on-going equal pay scandal,” she continued.

According to the union, less than 10% of Fife Council’s posts has been re-evaluated, meaning this is “only the tip of the iceberg.”

In a statement to the media, Grimmond confirmed that the authority had received a letter “raising some concerns in relation to the implementation arrangements associated with recent job evaluation work” and assured that all of these arrangements have been progress alongside local trade unions.

“But we are also happy to engage with national trades unions on this matter and will be following this up,” he noted.

Top image: c. HPuschmann


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