Unison Scotland welcomed a landmark Employment Appeal Tribunal ruling today that could improve the chances of mainly women low-paid workers getting equal pay.
The ruling means Unison members working for arm's length external organisations (Aleos) set up by Glasgow City Council can compare themselves with workers in other councils and Aleos when claiming equal pay.
Councils across Scotland have set up Aleos to run services such as culture and leisure. These have been widely criticised by unions for creating a two-tier workforce.
Unison Scotland regional organiser Mandy McDowall told the Morning Star the ruling was an important victory.
"It means that the law allows employees of one employer to compare themselves with workers in another employer if the employers are associated - and that councils can't slip out of their duty to ensure equal pay and fair treatment simply by hiving off services into arm's length organisations."
The claimants in the Glasgow case are mostly low-paid women who were transferred out to the Aleos but want to claim equal pay with their bonus-earning male former colleagues within the council.
Glasgow City Council had argued that Aleos were separate companies and those that were limited liability partnerships could not be classified as associated employers.
But the tribunal dismissed these arguments, declaring that there was no justification for putting such a narrow meaning on the legislation.
The tribunal said that it was prepared to give a broad interpretation to the legislation as an anti-avoidance measure to prevent employers splitting up their workforce to avoid equal pay comparisons.
Ms McDowall added: "This victory shows that workers seeking equal pay are stronger together in their union."