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Unison hails 'victory' after female nurse wins equal pay case

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Union leaders have hailed a nurse’s landmark equal pay claim as a “victory” that will prevent women being paid less than men.

City and Hackney Primary Care Trust nurse Gloria Emmanuel brought a test case against her employer to challenge the fact that she was paid less than male maintenance workers in the same Agenda for Change pay band as her.

The PCT had argued that this was justified by the fact that, under the old Whitley Council pay system that pre-dates Agenda for Change, nurses’ pay was agreed separately from maintenance workers.

However, this was dismissed by a tribunal judge.

Unison assistant general secretary Bronwyn McKenna said: “This is a landmark case that should send out a clear signal to employers that it is not right to pay women less than men.

“It is a real shame that the trust wasted so much time and taxpayers’ money fighting a claim it could not justify.

“Women are bearing the brunt of the government cuts, as well as facing a rising cost of living. It is unfair to force women to take home less than a man for doing the equivalent job.

“This victory will have implications for thousands more NHS women workers’ cases.”

Ms Emmanuel said: “This has been a tough fight, but I am pleased that the trust has finally seen sense.
 
“It is not right for bosses to force women to take home less money than male colleagues doing equivalent jobs.
 
“Hopefully, the years of fighting have been worth it and my case will pave the way for other workers to get fair pay.”
 
But Jean Sapeta, head of London employment at Hempsons solicitors, told Nursing Times this was not as great a victory as Unison claimed.

She said: “It’s quite a complex legal decision and it’s being presented in an overly simplistic way by Unison.”

A separate tribunal decision on the same case ruled that the PCT could offer greater basic pay to maintenance workers in order to recruit people through the open market, she said.

Ms Sapeta said this made any precedent for future equal pay claims “very narrow”.

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