‘Hundreds’ of extra pay claims against council

Mary and Gerry O'Neill at their home in Norton Lees. They are two of the 900 people receiving equal-pay settlements from Sheffield Council
Mary and Gerry O'Neill at their home in Norton Lees. They are two of the 900 people receiving equal-pay settlements from Sheffield Council
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DOZENS of women workers are feared to have died before receiving payouts - and hundreds more may still be entitled to money - after a long-standing equal pay dispute with Sheffield Council was resolved.

Trades unions have won a settlement for 900 female council workers whose salaries did not match those of men in similar jobs.

But officials say they have already spoken to the widowers of some women who died before the case could be settled.

And hundreds of extra dinner ladies, cleaners and care staff may still be entitled to payments having left the council’s employ before the case was resolved.

The giant claim, made by members of trade unions Unison and the GMB, was settled out of court before the case was taken to the Supreme Court.

Carol Ring, a steward for Unison in the council’s carers service, and one of the 900 people who are to receive a settlement, said: “We have received a huge number of calls since the settlement was made.

“The sad thing is that some have come from husbands whose wives have died without receiving compensation. The money will go to their next of kin but it is a shame they are not around to enjoy it.”

She added: “There could be as many as 300 to 400 more who have left the council and were not part of this action, but who could be entitled to a settlement.”

Full details of compensation for each of the claimants has not yet been determined.

But the settlement was welcome news for Gerry and Mary O’Neill, from Norton Lees, both of whom are carers for the council.

Gerry, aged 55, said: “Although many of the settlements have gone to women, I’m also affected because of the job I’m in. There is a great need for male carers.

“I think the settlement is a really good victory for common sense.”

Jamila Hussain, 42, of Gleadless, also a carer, added: “I was delighted to hear they had come to this decision - although it should not have taken the council so long.”

However home carer Linda Handley, 61, of Crookes, said: “The whole thing started in 2005 and has taken longer than World War Two to resolve. We should have gone to the Supreme Court because the council did not have a leg to stand on and we could have received a larger award.”

Sheffield Council deputy leader Bryan Lodge said the payouts would not pose a new burden on council tax payers.

He would not reveal the total amount to be paid, but said: “It is within anticipated figures, so there will be no additional costs to taxpayers.”