Judges order council to settle equal pay dispute within a month

Female workers at a council are due backdated pay of up to six figures stemming from an equal pay dispute going back over 10 years.

Judges have given North Lanarkshire Council a month to settle the dispute over payment.

Nearly 400 female workers are claiming about £8 million in total.

Most of the claimants are clerical workers and classroom assistants and should see the long-running dispute come to an end this year, with their money being paid by the summer.

Previous claims of this kind have been settled outside of court, which means the amount of those awards is confidential.

But at the hearing in Glasgow yesterday, a number of claims were mentioned publicly – indicating the scale of the backdated payments.

One woman is due an award of about £100,000 and another one of over £60,000.

In addition, a sizable number are believed to be owed between £40,000 and £50,000 with lesser awards down to £3,000 also being made.

The case is the first to be heard at an employment tribunal because of disputes over the level of interest as well as injuries.

The council said cash had been put aside for settlements and that the payouts would not affect saving plans or the council’s frontline services.

But lawyer for the council, Stephen Miller, said there could be an impact on making the May 18 payouts because of “limited resources” and the processing of the other 4,000 claims.

However, Carol Fox (pictured), of Fox and Partners, who represented the women, accused the council of attempting to slow the process and dismissed claims of personnel problems.

Ms Fox said: “This council knew from 2004 it had no defence but carried on regardless, at great expense to the taxpayer.

“A number of claimants have died in the decade since this started. It’s simply not acceptable…”

A council spokesman said: “The council has already settled thousands of equal pay claims worth tens of millions of pounds.

“We will continue our practice of settling equal pay claims where justified.”