A NEW success for women battling for equal pay could see Glasgow City Council pay out an estimated half a billion pounds.

After a 12 year fight, thousands of women have now won an historic pay claim, securing a ruling that states Glasgow City Council's salary system is weighted against female workers.

It is the second ruling at the Court of Session in favour of the women.

A ruling in May paved the way for thousands of women to make equal pay claims at an estimated cost to the council of tens of millions.

This second ruling, passed down yesterday by the Lord Justice Clerk, Lady Dorrian; Lady Paton and Lord Menzies, opens the door for former employees who left the council up to five years ago to make a pay claim.

It also challenges the pay and benefits system for the overall workforce.

Glasgow City Council said it was not yet able to estimate how much this might cost the authority but lawyers for the claimants said it could be £500m.

Female workers who are claiming against the council through campaign group Action 4 Equality (Scotland) are delighted.

Frances Stojilkovic, a Glasgow Home Care Coordinator and A4ES client said: “Home Carers in Glasgow are all over the moon because we’ve finally got the recognition our jobs deserve, after being so badly undervalued and underpaid for all this time.

“It’s just such a pity we’ve had to fight the City Council for so long to get justice via the courts, but without Action 4 Equality Scotland and Mark Irvine’s support we would never have won our case.

“I think I might just head out tonight and have a wee celebration.”

Unions and lawyers now hope the council, whose new SNP administration has said it is committed to equal pay, will now negotiate a deal. But - without such an agreement - the ruling means thousands of women can go back to tribunals to seek a wage rise and back pay.

Stefan Cross QC, of Action 4 Equality (Scotland), said: “We have been saying for years that the City Council could not justify paying highly skilled, hard working staff like Home Carers so much less than gardeners, gravediggers and refuse workers.

“The A4ES legal team did a fantastic job in the Court of Session and our determination has been vindicated in the end.

“There is now bound to be a huge influx of new cases against the City Council, which faces a mammoth bill of £500 million after stubbornly refusing to face up to its equal pay obligations for the past 12 years.

“Once again we urge Glasgow City Council to get round the table to resolve these issues once and for all.”

Unions argue their female members such as carers, cleaners, catering staff, classroom assistants, clerical workers and so on were typically paid £3 less an hour less than male gardeners, gravediggers or binmen.

That can add up to a shortfall for women of £5000 per year. A final settlement could potentially, therefore, mean workers getting the shortfall for the last decade plus interest.

Leader of Glasgow City Council Susan Aitken said: “This is a complex ruling about a complex matter. It is right that the council takes some time to consider the immediate impact and wider ramifications of this ruling.

“Council officers will require time to consider all the implications of this ruling, but I have instructed them to continue to speak to the trade unions about the application of the pay and grading scheme.

“The City Government was elected on a commitment to improve industrial relations in Glasgow City Council, including resolving inherited outstanding equal pay cases. Today’s ruling has not changed that position.”