Raft of legal claims against city council dropped by workers
AMASSIVE raft of legal claims by 100 Birmingham City Council workers – ranging from sex discrimination to equal pay – have been ditched.
The multi-million pound mountain of allegations were this week dismissed by Birmingham Employment Tribunal after Judge Findlay revealed they have all been withdrawn by claimants.
Those claimants are more than 100 strong and cover eight separate cases.
The claims, covering sex discrimination, equal pay and the unlawful deduction of wages, were recently registered at the tribunal at the same time.
In court, no reason for the U-turn was given and it is not known whether financial settlements have been made by the council.
But there is no doubt that the thorny issue of equal pay has, over the years, punched a huge hole in the council’s fragile finances.
In the last decade alone, the beleaguered authority has paid out a staggering £1.1 billion in settling claims.
To find that fortune, the council has been forced to sell off major assets such as the NEC, ICC, NIA and Grand Central Shopping Centre.
Even with those “jewels” stripped from the portfolio, the cashstrapped authority needed huge loans that currently cost £103 million a year.
Meeting that bill has dramatically eroded frontline services.
Last summer’s bin strike seen as the spark for the firestorm of claims.
On the surface, it presented residents with fly-infested streets piled high with putrifying rubbish.
But the hidden, long-term ramifications have hit taxpayers even harder.
Equal pay lawyers were flooded by calls from disgruntled staff, furious over reports of the £8.4 million bill paid for overtime and agency staff to clear the streets.
Even before the industrial action, bonus, shift allowances, shorter hours and overtime paid to binmen up to 2011, split the council work- is now current force. Staff, including care workers, pressed for pay parity and were victorious in court.
Last July, Darren Smith, of law firm Equal Pay Legal, said: “The bin strike has nothing to do with agency staff costs.
“It is about the council trying to remedy the relative overpay of binmen as it is so keen to avoid a huge equal pay liability.
“The council is terrified of the huge liability they have left the Birmingham tax payers by not addressing this issue properly in 2011.”
This drew a rebuttal council and unions.
A trade union source said: “This was all sorted out years ago. Our lawyers and council lawyers confirmed the structure agreed in 2011 was equal pay compliant.”
When asked to explain why the mountain of claims had been withdrawn, a Birmingham City Council said simply: “We are unable to comment on employee matters.”
Legal firms involved in council equal pay disputes have not responded to our request for information. from the