Unison lodges 33,000 claims in New Year

Unison has already launched 33,000 equal pay claims to begin its New Year campaign, meaning that solicitors in Britain and Northern Ireland are likely to be very busy in 2008.

According to the public services union, many employers in the public sector in Belfast and Northern Ireland regard the Equal Pay Act as an almost voluntary and weak law, although if they breach the legislation, solicitors are sure to show them otherwise.

Data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that men are still being paid 17 per cent more on average than women and some of these will resort to solicitors to address the problem.

But even with those who do use solicitors to stand up to their bosses' unfairness, a recent poll showed that 70 per cent of women still think enough is not being done to close the gender pay gap.

Unison's general secretary, Dave Prentis, said: "Equal pay is not just the wish list of the trade unions; it is the law of the land.

"It must be implemented robustly across the UK and the government must do its bit to fund equal pay for the public services."

According to the Fawcett Society, it will take 80 years to achieve equal rates of pay between the sexes in Belfast and Northern Ireland if the rate of change does not increase.

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