Payouts could top £10k for women council staff

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SOME women workers could be in line to receive five-figure settlements after a long-running equal pay claim - which trade union officials say Sheffield Council wasted millions of pounds fighting.

Around 900 female council workers - dinner ladies, carers and cleaning staff - have won out-of-court settlements after the council accepted they had not been paid as much as men in similar jobs.

The council agreed to settle a month before around 600 women were due to take their cases to the Supreme Court.

Today officials from workers’ union Unison criticised council bosses for failing to settle earlier - and called for an investigation.

Some women have died while waiting for their claim to be heard and missed out on receiving money they should have been due.

Alan Hughes, senior manager for the union, told The Star the sums owed has not yet been calculated, but some of the women due to go to the Supreme Court could expect more than £10,000 each.

He said: “There is a small group that is going to get a fixed sum of £500 each. But the figures will rise much higher, and some of those who were going to the Supreme Court will be getting five figure sums.

“We are talking about people who have claims going back six years and they will get significant settlements.”

Mr Hughes said most other councils in the country accepted similar cases years ago - and claimed Sheffield was the only authority in Yorkshire to challenge the case at every stage, costing millions in legal fees.

He described the delay as an ‘appalling waste of time and public money.’

“It is unbelievable Sheffield Council spared no expense in fighting this. We are calling on the new leadership of the council to formally investigate what lay behind it. It is sad and ironic the council had to engage the most expensive employment lawyer in the country before they would accept what Unison had been telling them for three years.”

Council chief executive John Mothersole said: “We are surprised by these comments from Unison, having achieved a consensus with the trade unions involved.

“On such a significant issue as this, it would have been extraordinary to settle without taking proper legal advice and we believe an amicable solution has been reached to everyone’s satisfaction.”