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Council targeted by new equal pay claim after bin strike.

Byline: Neil Elkes Local Government Correspondent

EQUAL pay lawyers are again targeting Birmingham City Council staff in the wake of the latest bin strike - claiming the authority could be landed with another huge bill.

In the last decade the council has been forced to pay out more than PS1.1 billion in equal pay claims and was forced to sell major assets like the NEC, ICC and NIA and Grand Central Shopping Centre to offset the bill. Even then it needed huge loans which will be paid back for decades - taking funds from frontline services.

Unique bonuses, shift allowances, shorter working hours and routine overtime paid to binmen up to 2011 but not made available to other staff including care workers was a key factor in the equal pay claims. The council lost a series of embarrassing court cases over the issue.

Now lawyers are again signing up staff with fresh claims having seen the council's huge PS8.4 million bill last year for overtime and agency staff working on the bins.

Darren Smith of Equal Pay Legal said he believed a combination of the four-day week and high level of overtime suggested other council staff had a claim.

He 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."

But both the city council and unions have rejected the claim. A trade union source said: "This was all sorted out years ago after the last strike.

"Our lawyers and council lawyers confirmed the structure agreed in 2011 was equal pay compliant."

The council was not able to respond as the Post went to press but will do so in due course.

Bin strike crackdown: Page 7

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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jul 27, 2017
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