Council bosses in Wrecsam have been blasted for spending almost £610,000 in legal fees to fight thousands of equal pay claims. An FOI request by Plaid Cymru also revealed that in addition to the bill for external legal advice, the council has also used 1,133 hours of officer time fighting the claims since 2007.
The claims affect mainly female workers who have waited eight years to see the cases settled, with many expressing frustration about the ongoing delays. Both current and former council employees across Wrecsam are owed millions, with settlement agreements finally being sent out to many this week.
Cllr Arfon Jones who has been making enquiries on behalf claimants said:
“ I was stunned to see how much has been spent to avoid paying these current and former employees money they are rightly owed, clearly it is also wrong that they've had to wait 8 years for it. Many have commented to me that if they owed the council money, there is no way they’d be given 8 years to pay up. I’m sure this huge bill will come as a surprise to many councillors, I certainly had no idea as to the extent of the external legal fees which are eye watering. The truth is that the council should have faced up to its obligations on this issue.”
Carrie Harper, Plaid’s Parliamentary candidate in Wrecsam added: “This is a massive bill purely to avoid paying compensation to people who are entitled to equal money for equal work. This staggering legal bill is of course public money that in my opinion has been squandered over the last eight years on expensive solicitors, only to delay what was clearly inevitable. Unfortunately the only people rubbing their hands together with glee at the end of all this are the lawyers.”