Unison Wins Equal Pay Case

Nearly 2,000 women members of Unison are celebrating a historic equal pay victory today.

They have finally demolished the long-running defence by Scottish councils of paying men discriminatory bonuses that are denied to women.

The Unison members can expect to share in an estimated £12m in lost pay after the Supreme Court today handed down judgment in their favour in the seven-year case of North & Others v Dumfries and Galloway Council.

Having conceded that council bonuses were discriminatory, more than 20 Scottish councils joined Dumfries in arguing that women should only get equal pay compensation if they worked at the same location as their male comparators.

Unison had appealed after the Court of Session said the 251 classroom assistants, support for learning assistants and nursery nurses in Dumfries were not able to compare themselves with groundsmen, refuse collectors and drivers and leisure attendants who received bonuses, but were based at depots, not in the women's schools.

Today's judgment overturns that decision, saying that equal pay law which allows a woman to compare herself with a man "in the same employment" does apply, even though the women worked at different 'establishments'.

Unison General Secretary, Dave Prentis said: "I am delighted that the Supreme Court has ruled in favour of our women members. It is a shame, though, that they have had to go through this process and endure a seven-year wait, just to get equal pay. Dumfries and Galloway Council should take immediate steps to correct their pay and I urge other councils to follow suit. We have more than 2,000 other cases on hold, waiting for this judgement.

"Employers should be in no doubt that this union will continue to pursue cases until all women are treated equally. There are far too many who are still discriminated against and far too many employers who are using every single legal argument and loophole to dodge their obligations under equal pay law."


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