GLASGOW City Council has been warned it faces a rash of new equal-pay claims despite recently agreeing to settle legal challenges with thousands of women over unfair wages

The local authority is facing a bill of between £500 million and £1 billion after agreeing to negotiate settlements with up to 11,500 women who have historically been paid less than men for doing work of equal value.

But because councillors have failed to overhaul the salary structure, fresh claims would still be valid, union leaders have claimed.

Last year, the Court of Session ruled that a Workforce Pay and Benefits Review (WPBR) conducted over a decade ago favoured men by protecting bonuses they previously received and deeming their work to be of higher value than that carried out by female colleagues.

READ MORE: Glasgow City Council pension claims see equal pay bill soar to £1bn

The council has agreed to compensate any female employees affected by the disparity and a spokesman said the local authority is willing to look at the pay system as part of that.

“The future pay and grading structure will be a matter for discussion and a workstream has already been set up to explore this,” he said.

However, Hazel Nolan of GMB Scotland, which is representing 2,000 claimants, accused the council of trying to “salvage the broken WPBR scheme by tinkering around the edges of the scheme” rather than looking at replacing it in its entirety.

“The council needs to accept the reality about WPBR – accept the system is broken as the Court of Session ruled it to be and bring everyone together to introduce a system that is fair and fit for purpose,” she said.

“If equal pay is settled without the total replacement of the WPBR scheme then we will immediately move to bring in [more] claims because until the scheme is replaced, discrimination will continue.”

According to Peter Hunter of fellow union Unison, which is also acting for 2,000 affected women, the council’s “indecision” on whether to “retain, revise or replace” the pay scheme suggests it “lacks the knowledge and confidence about what needs to be done on this issue”.

READ MORE: Glasgow City Council pension claims see equal pay bill soar to £1bn

“They currently have a scheme that was not quality tested on implementation - it’s a bad scheme and we have a Court of Session ruling that says it’s a bad scheme,” Mr Hunter said.

“It would be reckless to leave it in place as it is but if you have a reckless pay system and the financial risk attached to that is big, is it wise to try to repair it?”

Stefan Cross QC of Action 4 Equality Scotland, which is acting for 7,500 women making a claim against Glasgow, said the failure to reach agreement on whether the pay scheme should be replaced is holding up negotiations on the actual settlements.

Mr Cross said that while the sides have met eight times since December “we’ve not got down to a single issue other than procedure”.

“We are making concessions on procedure to get to talks,” he said. “One of the biggest is that we believe the result of the Court of Session action is that the current pay structure is untenable and the council should replace it.

“At the moment it’s a frustrating process where we’re not discussing details, just process.

“They said they won’t commit to replacing WBPR. Our view is that these discussions are less likely to succeed because we’re starting from the wrong position.”

READ MORE: Glasgow City Council pension claims see equal pay bill soar to £1bn

The spokesman for the local authority said: “The council and the claimants’ representatives have always been clear that this process will take time. That said, we have made progress on agreeing a terms of reference and moving towards interim payments in respect of pay protection.”

The next meeting between the sides is scheduled for April 17. Mr Cross said the hope is to “try to move things forward and get down to brass tacks” at that meeting.