Down District Council Loses Long-Running Pay Dispute

Down District Council has lost an Industrial Tribunal and seven construction workers will receive up to £12,000 each. Down District Council has lost an Industrial Tribunal and seven construction workers will receive up to £12,000 each.[/caption]

SEVEN construction workers who worked for Down District Council have successfully secured compensation for a historic wage grievance worth up to £12,000 each following an Industrial Tribunal.

The men, all members of construction workers’ union UCATT, had raised concerns separately on numerous occasions that their wages were not being paid correctly, but employers, Down District Council, had repeatedly dismissed they had a legitimate claim.

As a result, the lead claimant for the case contacted UCATT which instructed Thompsons McClure to act on the workers’ behalf.

Down District Council was found to have unlawfully deducted from the claimants’ wages by failing to implement the new rate of pay set by the Joint Council (the body responsible for setting industry wage standards in the building and civil engineering sector).

A Down District Council spokesperson said that the Council “does not comment on matters relating to staff.”

All seven workers were registered with the Construction Skills Register as having the appropriate skills which would have seen them paid at a higher hourly rate than the basic operative rate they were receiving.

Each worker will receive between £9,000 and £12,000 compensation from Down District Council to cover backdated salary for the last six years. They will also be up to £30 per week better off in the future now they are on the correct hourly rate.

The lead claimant and UCATT member said: “I took control of this claim because I was fed up of the fact that we weren’t being taken seriously. Before we got UCATT and Thompsons involved we just kept getting knocked back and the Council kept saying that we didn’t have a case.

“It was hard to bring the case individually because I didn’t want to be stigmatised as a troublemaker but, I felt if everyone complains, it shows there’s a problem. The compensation money is great, but at the end of the day this was about our pay being fair.”

North West Regional Secretary from UCATT, Andy Fisher, added: “This is a great result for these seven members who had a legitimate claim against employers who systematically failed to acknowledge they were acting unlawfully. This just demonstrates the importance of collective action against employers who disregard the rights of their employees and how union membership is invaluable for supporting those rights.”

John O’Neill from Thompsons McClure said: “The Council interpreted the information from the Joint Council in a way which meant that they did not have to pay the correct wage rate. We were able to strongly argue that to deny the workers their skills based rate of pay was unlawful. The level of compensation is a great result, and had the backdated pay not been capped at six years the Council could have been liable for further payments in arrears.”