Page last updated at 11:06 GMT, Thursday, 25 June 2009 12:06 UK

Appeal bid over equal pay ruling

Cleaners
Pay claims were first made by female cleaners, dinner ladies and caretakers

Thousands of men may have to wait for equal pay awards after a local authority said it was to challenge a landmark legal ruling.

Hartlepool, Middlesbrough and South Tyneside councils were told they discriminated against some male workers while agreeing bonuses for other staff.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal ruling involves 300 men, but paves the way for 12,000 others to make equal pay claims.

South Tyneside Council said it had put in a bid to appeal against the ruling.

The men, who were working in jobs such as care assistants, caretakers, drivers and leisure attendants, had lodged discrimination claims about bonuses paid to male workers in better paid jobs such as gardeners and refuse collectors.

The council has made financial provision to cover its potential liabilities
South Tyneside Council spokesman

This was at the same time as women in low paid jobs were also claiming the bonuses were discriminatory, the tribunal heard.

Whilst the women's case succeeded and they were offered financial settlements, the men were not.

This left them in a worse financial situation than the women, as well as the better-paid men.

The tribunal ruled the 300 men should have been offered the same back pay as the women.

A spokesman for South Tyneside Council said: "The issues are complicated, but basically to make an equal pay claim you must be able to compare yourself with an employee of the opposite sex.

"But if a female employee can compare herself to male employee and is successful, the question is can a second male employee compare himself to the female employee and so indirectly, via her, compare himself to the first male employee.

Tribunal 'disappointment'

"The council has requested permission to appeal against the decision and we wait to see the outcome.

"The council has made financial provision to cover its potential liabilities."

A spokesman for Hartlepool Council said it was "disappointed" at the tribunal's ruling and was considering its position.

Middlesbrough Council is considering whether to lodge an appeal.

Lawyers representing the 300 men described Wednesday's decision as a landmark ruling, which could cost councils hundreds of millions of pounds.



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