Glasgow & West Scotland

Equal pay ruling against North Lanarkshire Council

Nursery class
Image caption The latest ruling affects 300 claimants including classroom assistants, clerical assistants and other non manual workers

The long-running battle over equal pay for women council workers has taken a new twist.

Lawyers, representing 300 employees at North Lanarkshire Council, have won their case regarding interest on back pay if the claims are successful.

But a tribunal upheld the precedent that claimants cannot recover compensation for injury to feelings.

Carol Fox, representing the women, said all councils with outstanding claims should "now think very carefully".

This has been a long-running and complicated saga involving several different councils throughout Scotland.

Current and former female employees argued that they were earning less than men in comparable, but different, jobs.

Many cases across Scotland, which stemmed from the way jobs were evaluated, have now been settled.

The latest ruling affects 300 claimants in North Lanarkshire including clerical assistants, classroom assistants and other non manual workers.

'Final phase'

Carol Fox, of Fox and Partners, said: "We expected to win on interest and hope that all councils with outstanding equal pay cases will now think very carefully about continuing to defend this litigation.

"In summer 2015 many of these cases will reach their tenth anniversary.

"For the past decade women have fought a determined struggle for justice and equality in the face of opposition, obstruction and deliberate tactics employed to delay cases.

"We are now in the final phase of these equal pay cases and we call upon every Local Authority in Scotland to ensure that claimants now receive settlements without further delay."

Ms Fox said her company was handling 9,500 outstanding cases across Scotland and believed there could be 15,000 in total.

She explained that the interest ruling had an important effect on how much money a successful claimant could be awarded. She said that the longer the cases continued, the more the claimant would receive.

For instance, a clerical assistant might be offered money covering the period from November 2000 until January 2007.

A settlement figure now could be £31,300 but if the case was not settled until January 2016, the figure would have increased to £32,100.

'Considering appeal'

A spokesman for North Lanarkshire Council said: "The tribunal judgment deals with complex legal issues and needs to be studied in detail.

"The council is pleased the judge has ruled in its favour on the question of compensation for injury to feelings, in which claimants' representatives attempted, unsuccessfully, to overturn established legal precedents.

"While the council recognises that the employment judge has not accepted its arguments in relation to judicial interest, we are considering whether this should be subject to an appeal."

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites