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Univesity Of Wales Workmen Win Equal Pay Claim After Being Paid Less Than Female Counterparts

23/04/2014 16:41 BST | Updated 23/04/2014 16:59 BST

A group of men unhappy at being paid less than their female counterparts have won their equal pay claim in what is thought to be a landmark case.

Around 18 workmen - including carpenters, plumbers and caretakers - took employer the University of Wales, Trinity St David (UWTSD) to an employment tribunal claiming they were being paid less than female counterparts on the same pay scale, such as secretaries and office workers.

Their bosses had insisted the difference was not due to gender and was because of changes due to the men's contracts.

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Rob Cooze, Mike Betson and Nicholas Thomas outside Caradog House, Cardiff, as the trio are part of group of 18 men launching a pay discrimination case

But in an unexpected U-turn, the UWTSD's legal team told a hearing in Cardiff they would no longer be contesting the equal pay claim.

Representing the university, Peter Wallington QC said: "In light of the evidence that was agreed this morning, I have taken some further instructions from the respondents who concede the (claims of) equal pay was well founded."

It is believed to be the first time that such a large group of men have launched legal action in Britain claiming sexual discrimination.

Although tribunals brought by men are not unheard of, the case involving the Welsh university workers has been described as "very unusual" since women bring the majority of unfair pay claims.

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All the men were originally employed by Swansea Metropolitan University which merged with the University of Wales Trinity Saint David in August last year.

They were on grade 3 on the university's pay scale - but the dispute arose when their contracts changed.

Previously, the men had been on a minimum 45 hours per week contract until new regulations sought to standardise all workers' contracts to a 37-hour working week instead.

Fearing the drop in hours would cause problems, university bosses said they would guarantee the men the extra eight hours but class it as overtime pay.

However when the new system was put in place, the men said they realised their hourly rate was less than women who were on the same pay scale.

The claimants said they were also not given any choice but to accept the changes - with the situation described as a "fait accompli".

In earlier proceedings, Caroline Musgrave, representing the male workers, said the employees were all on the same grade 3 pay scale and their work was deemed to be equivalent, yet the women were given a higher basic rate.