Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Thousands in Line for Compensation; Low-Paid Workers Could Get Big Payout

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Thousands in Line for Compensation; Low-Paid Workers Could Get Big Payout

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID OLD

THOUSANDS of lowpaid workers could be in line for a bumper payout after a tribunal ruling.

Up to 170 male workers at South Tyneside Council have been given the green light to pursue claims of up to pounds 50,000 each after winning a landmark case.

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The action was brought by male workers at the council after female employees won an equal pay deal in 2004.

They had argued that men working in lower grade positions - such as gardeners and refuse collectors - for the council were on a higher wage, sometimes by up to 50%.

Workers had been paid the extra bonuses as part of their hourly wage.

But despite the women care assistants, caretakers, driver/carers and leisure attendants winning better pay, the council did not offer their male colleagues the same deal.

The council also failed to change the terms and conditions of the men's contracts.

Now an Employment Appeal Tribunal has ruled those men are also entitled to the extra cash, and the ruling could cost South Tyneside Council at least pounds 5m.

The case has been brought by Stefan Cross Solicitors, and includes almost 300 men across South Tyneside, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough.

Mr Cross said: "This ruling opens up the knowledge to a whole load of men that they have been left out of a pay increase.

"All the councils in the region have paid out to women in one way or another, but for some reason the men were left out.

"Anyone who was earning less than pounds 18,000 working for any of the local councils is entitled to put in a claim. Claims can still go in, there are no time limits.

"Refusing to pay men the same wages as women on the same grade is just as bad as failing to pay the women in the first place.

"It just replaces discrimination against the women with discrimination against men.

"We believe both are wrong.

This is a massive victory for the men who have fought long and hard to receive what they are entitled to." The council said it was going to appeal against the decision.

A council spokesman added: "The council has received a number of equal pay claims from male employees.

"The claims involve new and previously undecided legal issues which need to be decided by the courts. …

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