South Scotland

Dumfries and Galloway Council seeks equal pay deal

A council has said it hopes to reach a negotiated settlement after losing a multi-million pound equal pay case.

The local authority workers' union, Unison, won its case on behalf of more than 200 education staff in Dumfries and Galloway earlier this year.

The council - which has funds set aside to cover the claims - is keen to avoid returning to an employment tribunal.

A report on the outcome of negotiations is expected in the next four to six weeks.

The equal pay claim was filed by 251 classroom assistants, learning support staff and nursery nurses employed by Dumfries and Galloway Council - most of whom are women.

They argued that their wages and conditions were inferior to those of male colleagues in different jobs, but with equivalent value.

The comparison was made with male manual workers in the council, such as leisure attendants, roads workers, groundsmen and refuse collectors.

After what was a protracted legal process, Supreme Court judges in London eventually upheld their case in June this year.

As part of the landmark ruling, the case was referred back to be settled at an employment tribunal in Edinburgh where the claim was first tabled.

However, the local authority is looking to bypass the tribunal process - which can be lengthy and costly - and is attempting to reach a negotiated settlement with trade unions.

The council has £7.6m in balances to cover the cost of the pay claims.

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