07 January 2009
Caerphilly county borough council is presenting a generous offer to staff this week to resolve equal pay liabilities with its employees.
The council has been prudent and has set aside funding to meet the compensation offers it is placing before staff. This is part of its commitment to resolving historical disputes over its pay and grading arrangements and achieving a new equality-proofed structure for the future. The Trade Unions' assertions that more money should be placed on the table would place a significant burden on the council's future finances, as it would have to borrow the money to meet this. In the current financial climate, additional un-budgeted funds could not be justified. At present up to £8 million pounds has been earmarked to meet the compensation payments to those staff affected by historical equal pay issues.
The council has placed a generous and fair equal pay offer on the table which benefits the lowest paid. Employees in catering, cleaning and care jobs are expected to be made a cash settlement offer instead of what is likely to be a long and protracted court case with no certainty of outcome. It is anticipated that this process through the Tribunal system could take as many as 5 years to resolve, and will lead to ongoing employee relations issues at the council. The council believes it has a strong legal defense to claims of equal pay. Indeed it is noticeable that the trade unions have already dropped one of their two legal avenues at the Employment Tribunal, following the employers submission of its defence case. However ongoing litigation will obviously incur costs which the council would prefer to invest in its employees, and subsequently the local economy.
The council believes this is a fair and equitable offer. Our lowest paid female workers are been given a clear opportunity to receive a fair award and indeed we have made strenuous efforts to ensure they are given the best settlement possible. The formula allows those at the lowest paid to receive the biggest compensation rather than the higher paid employee picking up the lion's share as often happens in these situations.
All employees involved will be receiving a letter detailing their personal compensation payment during the next week. Telephone helplines and meetings have been arranged for employees to be able get as much support and advice as they need before accepting the offer.
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