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Justice at last for female employees

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Doreen Goldthorpe: Four years hard work has led to 100 women getting a payout

Doreen Goldthorpe: Four years hard work has led to 100 women getting a payout

SOME one hundred female employees and former employees of Pembrokeshire County Council are celebrating this week having successfully pursued a claim for Equal Pay Discrimination against the local authority, which is set to cost the council hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Claimants included hard working care workers, cleaners, dinner ladies and lollipop ladies began their action in 2012, when formal complaints of discrimination to Pembrokeshire County Council were completely rebuffed by the authority’s senior staff.

The ladies however were not to be put off and contacted solicitor Mr Chris Benson of Leigh Day & Co, London, who after considering the matter agreed to take on the case. Leigh Day had previously succeeded in winning a landmark case on Equal Pay in the High Court whilst representing female workers of Birmingham City Council.

An open meeting was held at the Cleddau Bridge Hotel, Pembroke Dock, when more employees who believed they had been discriminated against came forward and following this the case was pursued by Leigh Day which has resulted in this week’s payment to the claimants in an out of court settlement agreed with the council.

The Ladies are extremely grateful to Leigh Day for their diligent approach to the case that has lasted nearly four years, but are less than complimentary to the council who have fought the claim every step of the way, despite other local authorities settling their claims many years ago.

The union UNISON also offered no help to the group, stating in a letter to the women in 2012 that ‘you cannot bring a claim unless you do so within six months of leaving your employment, changing your job, being promoted or your employment transferring to a different employer’.

The landmark case against Birmingham City Council led by the team from Leigh Day at the Supreme Court led to the historic judgement that extended the time limit for claims from six months to six years.

In December 2014 the women were told they were entitled to pay outs but that they were unlikely to receive them before Christmas that year, which caused great unrest amongst the women, as former Chief Executive Bryn Parry-Jones had received a six figure settlement whilst they were still waiting.

Over two years later the claim has finally been settled despite the continuing claims from the council that some women were not entitled to payment as there was ‘no male comparator’ in their job role.

The council had claimed that cooks in charge, cook supervisors and care staff were eligible for pay-outs whilst cleaners, catering assistants, lunchtime supervisors, teaching assistants and school crossing patrols were not. Leigh Day and Co, who gathered information from local unions and other sources to support their claim that every woman was entitled, challenged this. The council also admitted making ‘nominal’ pay-outs to employees in ineligible job roles in order to avoid the legal costs of contesting these claims. With the council now also having to pay the solicitors fees on top of the individual pay outs, the eventual bill is sure to be multiple hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Mrs Doreen Goldthorp has led the charge against the council, after she was underpaid in her role as a care worker, she told The Herald: “After four years of fighting Pembrokeshire County Council we have finally come to the close of our claim, in which there are 100 of us waiting to be paid out our cheques from Mr Chris Benson and Ms Sara Rumberg from Leigh Day & Co at their London office.

“Thank you very much to them, and I’m sure all these people when they get their cheques will appreciate what has been achieved.

“I am delighted that something I started four years ago has now resulted in 100 women in similar situations getting their just rewards and receiving their pay out.

“It wouldn’t have been possible without the fantastic team at Leigh Day, who took on our case when our unions UNISON and GMB said they would not, and when the council said we had no chance.

“We were told by the council at one point to ‘take us on you won’t win anything’ and we have proven them wrong. It is a wonderful day.”

The Herald contacted Pembrokeshire County Council for comment, a spokesperson said: “I understand a settlement has been agreed with just over 100 ex-female employees relating to compensatory payments in lieu of equal pay.

“Initially some of them would not have been liable for a payout as there was only a six month window in which a claim could be made. However a landmark case involving Birmingham City Council in 2012 increased the window for lodging a claim to six years.”

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Garage planning appeal dismissed

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A PLANNING inspector has upheld a Pembrokeshire County Council decision to refuse planning permission for a detached garage.

The Inspector dismissed the appeal by Mr Peter Baker against the Council’s decision to refuse the proposed development at Amroth Road, Ludchurch.

Planning Inspector J P Tudor agreed that the development would cause unacceptable harm on the character and appearance of the area.

The planned garage was to be placed in front of a detached bungalow.

Other properties nearby generally have garages situated to the side or rear or integrated into the main building.

The Inspector said: “Given its size and position, the garage would appear prominent in public views along the highway and be noticeable from neighbouring properties. It would compromise the existing sense of space and openness to the front of most dwellings.

“Therefore, the development would have an adverse effect on the character an appearance of the area.”

The appeal was dismissed.

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New guidelines for hospital visiting during Coronavirus outbreak

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NEW revised NHS Wales hospital visiting guidance during the coronavirus outbreak will be published on Monday 30 November 2020. This supersedes previously published guidance.

The revised guidance sets out the baseline for visiting in Wales during the pandemic, but allows health boards, trusts and hospices to have more flexibility to depart from the guidance.

This flexibility is due to the changing picture of coronavirus transmission across Wales, with significant variations in community transmission across different parts of the country and differences in the rate of nosocomial transmission.

The new guidelines allow health care providers to asses local factors and work with local infection prevention and control teams and Public Health Wales when agreeing visiting arrangements.

Healthcare providers may depart from the guidance in response to:

  • rising levels of covid-19 transmission in their localities, including levels which result in a national lockdown and/or evidence of nosocomial transmission in a particular setting; or
  • falling levels of transmission in their local area.

In addition to allowing for this flexibility the revised guidance has been amended for maternity services after listening to feedback from women and families and consulting with Heads of Midwifery and Sonography/Radiography Services. Visiting in maternity services will now be based on a risk assessment approach by health boards. This will take into consideration local environmental factors such as room sizes, ability to socially distance and infection prevention and control risks in enabling partners to safely accompany pregnant women and new mothers. This risk assessed approach should be taken in collaboration with relevant health professionals, local infection prevention and control teams and Public Health Wales. All women will be supported to have at least one partner with them during active labour, birth and for the period immediately after the birth, except in an extremely limited number of circumstances.

The updated guidelines also recognise that some people may require an essential support assistant for specific additional support eg a support worker or interpreter. Essential support assistants will not to be classed as visitors, in some circumstances, where people receive care and support from a family member or partner, they may nominate this person as their essential support assistant.

Minister for Health and Social Services Vaughan Gething, said: “We recognise that the restrictions on visiting has a huge impact on patients, their families and loves ones. We have announced further changes to the guidelines today to provide health boards, trusts and hospices with flexibility to depart from the guidelines in response to local levels of Covid-19 transmission. It is important to remember that the virus has not gone away and the health, safety and wellbeing of patients, communities and NHS staff remains an absolute priority for both the Welsh Government and health care providers. Tough choices will still need to be made but we hope the revised guidelines will allow more flexibility for health care providers. ”

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Education

Ysgol y Preseli in Crymych named Welsh secondary school of the decade

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NEWS that Ysgol y Preseli in Crymych is the Sunday Times Welsh State Secondary School of the Decade has been welcomed by the local authority.

The school is named in Parent Power, the Sunday Times Schools Guide, which identifies the 2,000 highest-achieving schools in the UK, ranked by their most recently published examination results.

The news will be published in The Sunday Times and online this Sunday, November 29th.

Nick Rodrigues, the deputy editor of Parent Power, said: “This bilingual school has risen around 300 places in our rankings since 2012 and now stands 186th overall. Last summer’s results were the best we had captured. The school is consistently moving in the right direction.

“Head teacher Michael Davies and deputy head Iola Phillips are both retiring this year which makes it especially poignant that Ysgol Y Preseli wins the Welsh State Secondary School of the Decade award. It marks the end of a fantastic era of dedication by two exemplary educators and is a fitting testament to their hard work.

“Under their leadership teachers have fostered productive working relationships with their pupils ensuring they are highly motivated.

“Officials noted during its last Estyn monitoring that ‘Ysgol y Preseli is an extremely homely community with an inclusive and caring Welsh ethos’ and emphasised teachers’ conscientious aim to support every pupil, making clear why this school is the perfect recipient for our Welsh State Secondary School of the Decade award.”

Cllr Guy Woodham, Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning, said: “I am absolutely delighted to hear that Ysgol Preseli has been awarded Welsh State Secondary School of the Decade.

“This is a fantastic achievement and recognises the hard work and dedication of the whole Preseli education community. It is particularly poignant and timely that this comes as the Head and Deputy Head retire. My thanks and congratulations to all who have contributed to this award.”

Head teacher Michael Davies said it was fantastic news for everyone associated with Ysgol Y Preseli.

“To be ranked the top Welsh State Secondary School of the Decade is an incredible achievement,” she said.

“This is the culmination of ten years of hard work and I would like to dedicate the award to all the team at Ysgol Y Preseli, governors, senior management, staff, pupils, parents and the Pembrokeshire community.”

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