This week, 300 heroic men won a test case at an employment tribunal in the North Eastern councils they work (Middlesbrough, Hartlepool and SouthTyneside). This has implications for 12,000 men across the UK.
The case was based on the fact that men and women working for these three councils had previously taken a case against these councils where they were not given bonuses for similar graded jobs to jobs mainly carried out by men (such as gardeners and refuse collectors).
However, whilst these women were rightly awarded a financial settlement or received tribunal awards after winning their case, the three council's employing these men refused to make payments to the men or change their terms and conditions. Pure unadulterated discrimination.
That meant they continued to receive not only less than other men, but also less than the women.
The men then lodged sex discrimination cases in addition to their equal pay claims. The tribunal upheld this, but the council's scandalously appealed, and lost.
This test case, was a landmark victory for these men not just because of the decision but also because of what the Judge and lawyers said about it on the BBC:-
Mr Justice Underhill said: "It would be surprising and unsatisfactory if the [Equal Pay] Act offered no remedy to men in a situation like the present. The case where men and women do the same job but receive different rates of pay is the paradigm of the kind of situation which the Act was intended to prevent, how would it seem if the roles were reversed and the 'piggyback' claimants were not men but women?"
Lawyers involved, from the Cloister Chambers, have described it as a landmark ruling which will have a bearing on many other cases, and could cost councils hundreds of millions of pounds.
After the ruling, Yvette Genn, a barrister who specialises in equal pay law with the chambers Cloisters, said: “This is an important decision as it demonstrates that equal pay laws can be applied not only by women who compare themselves with men, but also by men who are comparing themselves with better paid men.
“Even though women historically have received lower pay than their male counterparts, it is too often forgotten that the law applies equally to men as it does to women.”
It crucially shows that equalities legislation can be used by men and with decent legal teams they can win. The Judge alludes to the hypocrisy of discrimination against men because he is basically saying if it was the other way round, then there would be no dispute and that he would not have to make a decision as it would unlikely to have to go to court for a settlement to be reached. A sound judge.
The key issue though is why did the councils not pay up in the first place when the women won their case and why did the three council's could automatically assume that it was OK for them to pay just the women concerned and not automatically extend it to these 300 men.
They did so, because firstly they felt they could get away with it but importantly because they felt these men did not matter because they were men. These three councils clearly do not believe in equality and it is shameful that public authorities feel that it is right and proper to discriminate against them.
What about the male councillors on these local authorities, what did they do about this, did they think it was OK that male workers working for them were discriminated against?
These men are heroes whilst the male councillors and male senior executives who appealed this decision have behaved disgracefully, they are traitors.