Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Reading Council v Low Paid Women Workers: The Wait Goes On

Reading Borough Council still fighting Low Paid Women Workers with expensive hired lawyers - An up-date

Equal Pay – back pay claims still waiting to be settled

UNISON claim on behalf of 61 low paid women, jobs include:
  • ·         Assistant Cook
  • ·         Care Assistant
  • ·         Cashier
  • ·         Clerical Assistant
  • ·         Community Care Assistant
  • ·         Cook
  • ·         Creche Worker
  • ·         Domestic
  • ·         Extra Community Care Assistant
  • ·         Night Care Assistant
  • ·         Post Office Cashier
  • ·         Relief Care Assistant
  • ·         Residential Care Officer
  • ·         Senior Cashier
  • ·         Social Work Assistant
  • ·         Waking Night Care Assistant

A few job titles have been omitted to avoid identification of individual claimants.
Claims submitted February / July 2009.

One claimant has died waiting for a settlement

1.     RBC lost when these cases went to tribunal. As such any staff still in employment with RBC has had their pay increased. (Though, for example, the Post Office was in the old, now demolished Civic Offices and is long closed!).

2.     The issue is therefore of RBC arguing over the level of back-pay owed

3.     RBC is the last employer in England to be holding out on offering any settlement with UNISON to the mass claims.

4.     However, RBC, continue to say this is not true, but this is what the union’s solicitor’s Thompsons say – and they are representing UNISON through-out the country.

5.     Over £6million of the money set aside for this settlement has been used by RBC to prop up and balance the council’s budget this year.

6.     Last year a commitment was made by council at the budget making meeting of the council (in February 2016) to settle this summer (2016).

7.     More recently promises said to “get some paid before Christmas 2016”. Who might they be - the post office cashiers whose jobs no longer exist? Bet they won't be the care assistants.

8.     Now the council is talking about settling during the next financial year (2017/18). There is a strong suspicion that most payments are to be held back until after April 2017.

9.     RBC confirmed that it had spent £724,370.40 on “legal advisors” as at 27 September 2016, fighting cases which has already been lost in the tribunal. This figure does not include the cost of any work by council employed staff.

10.  Though there a few cases where over £40,000 is owed, for the vast majority of cases the figure in between £10k and £15k.

11.  The cases went back to the tribunal in Reading in October 2016 for expert witness advice on the level of settlement, with obvious extra expense of outside legal fees. This could soon top more than £1million.

12.  RBC has steadfastly refused to consider any “out of court” settlement. RBC says "its in the hands of the lawyers" - but RBC is the client who directs the lawyers!

When all this is said and done, it will be interesting to see how much has been paid out to lawyers and how much to the low paid women. We will do the sums in public.

This is a continuing shame on Reading Borough Council.

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