£24m for equal pay settlement

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A COUNCIL is facing its third round of equal pay claims within six years – totalling £24million.

Durham County Council is in talks with trade unions to try and reach a deal for low-paid workers including cleaners, gardeners, porters and caretakers before their claims go before a judge.

The employment tribunal hearing is due to take place this month.

The council has said the exact calculations on how many workers will benefit and how much money is involved depends on the outcome of the discussions.

However, it is believed directly employed staff could share £14million and school workers a further £9.5million.

More than £500,000 has been set aside to settle claims dating before April 2009.

In 2005, it paid out to almost 5,000 workers and to 3,000-plus in 2009.

Don McLure, director of resources with the council, said: “The council is committed to pay equality.”

He said since the launch of the unitary authority, “officers have been involved in a detailed job evaluation exercise affecting all employees”.