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Female workers in landmark victory

Published 10th May, 2010 by Neil Nixon

Female workers in landmark victory

More than 4000 female public sector at Birmingham City Council have won the right to be paid the same as their male counterparts in a watershed for British equality law. An employment tribunal found in favour of female workers employed in 49 different types of job, including sanitation workers and cleaners, who complained that they were being excluded from the bonuses available to men.

During the hearing, the tribunal heard how a man doing the same pay- graded job as a woman could earn four times more than her. Under a bonus scheme, male refuse collection staff sometimes received up to 160% of their basic pay. In one example presented at the hearing, a refuse collector was paid more than four times the salary of a female colleague on the same pay grade.

Paul Savage, the solicitor acting on behalf of the claimants, estimated the bill for the council, based on the 4000 test cases, was about £200 million. However, he claimed that if a further 20,000 women from the 57,000-strong workforce also came forward to lodge claims, the figure could rise to up to £1 billion.

Steve Wright, chairman of the British Cleaning Council, said: "If a worker is judged to have the same skill and productivity as a colleague, they should be paid the same, regardless of their gender. The British Cleaning Council supports fair pay for the cleaning industry’s workers, and we hope that this ruling helps them reach this goal."

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