11:54am Tuesday 6th August 2013
A SENIOR union official has denied that hundreds of women care workers across Dudley were advised to accept derisory offers in their equal pay claim.
Dudley’s Unison branch secretary Steve Beardsmore refuted claims that members were urged to take the cheques offered by Dudley Council as compensation for having not been paid the same as binmen following the implementation of the single status agreement.
He said: “We told them if they hang on there would probably be a better offer - we could not say how long it would take, it may be a matter of years.”
About 300 women - mainly home care and care assistants - say that although solicitors’ letters from their unions advised them not to accept, they were advised by local officials to take the offers which amounted to as little as a couple of hundred pounds.
They are now calling for their claims to be re-negotiated after colleagues who waited received life-changing payouts of many thousands of pounds after a successful legal battle.
But Mr Beadsmore said it was he and a now retired colleague who were on hand to advise the women before they picked up their cheques at Dudley Town Hall about four years ago.
The women first met with council managers in a room and then had the opportunity to speak to the Unison and GMB officials stationed in another room before deciding on whether to accept the offers.
But he said: “Ninety per cent did not bother to come and ask our advice and those who did were advised not to accept.
“A lot may not have been our union members, but the GMB was there and I can’t imagine their advice was different. I don’t think Unite was represented as it didn’t have many members here at the time.”
Mr Beardsmore added: “Unison cannot be held responsible for those members who chose to reject the legal advice provided by Unison’s solicitors and sign away their legal rights by accepting the first offer made to them.”
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