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Published May 4, 2015  -  Source: Birmingham Mail

'Birmingham equal pay claimants have died waiting' says lawyer

 

No win, no fee firm calls for action saying people are tired of waiting for Birmingham City Council to settle historic equal pay claims

 

Former Birmingham City Council workers have died waiting for their equal pay claims to be settled a law firm has claimed.

 

Solihull based Equal Pay Legal accused the council of dragging its feet as it awaits for thousands of claims to be settled following a series of landmark legal rulings.

 

The no win, no fee firm, which takes a quarter of any settlement, is currently pursuing claims on behalf of 2,500 former and current council workers who were discriminated against up to 2010 – and expects that number to rise above 3,000 by the time a six year limit rules out any future claims next year.

 

So far many thousands of current and former workers, mainly female cooks, cleaners, teaching assistants and carers, have been given payouts totalling many thousands of pounds each.

 

The council has racked up more than £1.1 billion in claims since equal pay cases first started coming forward in 2008. It has so far paid out about half of this. Earlier this year it sold the NEC Group for £307 million to help fund the claims.

 

How short-termism led the city council to the financial abyss

 

Equal Pay Legal director Darren Smith said: “The council should stop dragging its feet over settlements and put a team of people on this to sort it out.

 

“Our clients have been made to wait too long and the backlog is growing. We even have cases where someone has died waiting.

 

“As a public authority the council, more than most, should uphold the law and has a responsibility to apply it properly. In these cases they haven’t.

 

“Instead they have taken on three court cases against their own staff and lost every single one and now they are dragging their feet on settlements.”

 

Equal Pay Legal claims the council has been stalling since late 2013 when it agreed to settle 11,000 cases with trade unions – leaving tens of thousand of cases stacking up with the overworked Birmingham Employment Tribunal service.

 

The Tribunal put the cases on hold to allow the council to reach a less costly out of court settlement with claimants.

 

The city council believes it has complied with equal pay rules since late 2010, but Equal Pay Legal is going through its current job evaluation scheme to search for possible equal pay failings.

 

A Birmingham City Council spokesperson said: “This is part of an ongoing legal process and, as such, it would be inappropriate to comment at this stage.”

 

Published May 4, 2015  -  Source: Express and Star

Cash-strapped Wolverhampton City Council spends £19m on equal pay settlements

 

Cash-strapped Wolverhampton City Council set aside almost £19 million to deal with equal pay claims in 2013/14 alone – but lawyers say there could still be thousands of workers owed money for the years they were underpaid.

 

After an equal pay shake-up at Wolverhampton City Council in April 2013, more than 5,400 staff had their pay increased under the Single Status agreement.

 

At the time, the council set aside £30m to fight and settle equal pay claims, and reports from 2008 show the council had already paid out £33m in equal pay compensation.

 

While the council would not reveal how many claims it had settled as it was confidential, spokesman Gulraj Kular said: “We are able to confirm that a sum of £18.7m was provisionally set aside in 2013/14.”

 

Published May 1, 2015  -  Source: Express and Star

Thousands due payout in Wolverhampton say lawyers

 

Thousands of council workers could be eligible for equal pay claims in Wolverhampton, a law firm claimed today as it began a drive in the city to represent claimants.

 

After an equal pay shake-up at Wolverhampton City Council, which came into effect in April 2013, 62 per cent of workers had their pay rate increased.

 

While 5,423 staff were better off under the Single Status agreement, a further 1,242 faced cuts – including three people who lost more than £10,000 a year.

 

The scheme was drawn up to iron out decades of pay inequality between men and women, and was backed by trade unions after the council also agreed to introduce the national living wage. Staff were to get at least £7.45 an hour – £1.26 more than the national minimum wage.

 

However, despite pay rates going up two years ago, workers may still be owed money for the years they were underpaid, even the thousands of workers whose pay was increased in 2013. qual Pay Legal director Darren Smith said Wolverhampton’s council was one of the last in the country to implement equal pay legislation.

 

By increasing pay rates for 62 per cent of staff it had, ‘by its own admission discriminated against 62 per cent of its workforce’.

 

“The failure of councils across the UK to implement equal pay legislation, which was first enacted in 1970, is nothing short of a disgrace, “ he said. The firm has active claims at various councils throughout the UK, and Birmingham City Council has so far paid out about £500 million in equal pay claims. In one month alone, 11,000 claims were settled in the city, with one settlement £200,000.”

 

More than 120e have been in touch with the firm since it started advertising a month ago.

 

Wolverhampton City Council spokesman Gulraj Kular said: “Equal pay is a confidential matter between ourselves and our employees/former employees so we are not able to confirm numbers.

 

"However, we are able to confirm that a sum of £18.7 million was provisionally set aside in 2013/14 [for equal pay claims] and that this was reported in our statement of accounts. A draft statement of accounts for the year 2014/15 will be available from June 30, which will include the amount that we set aside for that financial year.”

 

 

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