A workers’ union has revealed it intends to start fresh court action against Fife Council over the non-payment equal pay settlements for more than 60 employees.
GMB Scotland says it has today notified Fife Council chiefs it will begin legal proceedings over the outstanding equal pay awards, which are thought to run into a six figure sum in total.
To date, Fife Council has paid out an estimated £80 million in equal pay settlements to employees past and present.
But trade union representatives and their legal affiliates say they have been pressing officials for months over the reasons for the failure to pay out claims as part of the second wave of equal pay in Fife Council, many of which were awarded over two years ago.
They say that no confirmation has been forthcoming from council officials meaning the claimants, mainly local home carers, cleaners and catering staff, are no nearer to receiving their compensation for years of inequality.
GMB Scotland organiser Helen Meldrum said: “For reasons which Fife Council cannot seem to explain to us, over sixty women are still waiting on the award of their equal pay settlement.
“This is nearly two years after the finalisation of the second wave claims against Fife Council and we have been left with little choice but to reclaim what is owed to our members through the courts.
“In all likelihood the monies due to our members will amount to a few hundred thousand pounds; a drop in the ocean compared to the £80 million paid out in equal pay settlements by the council.
“These women take care of our elderly and vulnerable, keep our kids’ fed and their schools clean and it is absolutely shameful that after decades of discrimination, council bosses are still stalling on the delivery of pay justice.”
Sharon McKenzie, head of human resources at Fife Council, said: “Fife Council has worked diligently to resolve issues relating to settling claims and had not, until two weeks ago, been advised by the legal representatives of the GMB claimants that there were any outstanding issues.
“We had been working with a solicitor at Thompsons who has subsequently left and this perhaps has resulted in difficulties. The last communication from Thompsons was some considerable months ago and it did not raise the issues currently being raised by the local branch.
“As agreed, the local branch has now provided us with detail of the claims they have identified as outstanding and we are working through them to identify a resolution.
“In terms of due process, we are obliged to communicate directly with GMB’s solicitors rather than the local branch and we would encourage the local branch to respect this so that there is a single point of contact for queries.
“These issues relate to claims already with the tribunal and the solicitors acting for the GMB recently agreed that the cases be sisted for a further period during which we will look at any and all queries.
“There is therefore no need for “fresh legal action” as these cases are already with the tribunal and will be addressed in the next few days.”