COUNCIL bosses and Unison officials have failed to defer an appeal hearing over equal pay scheduled for next month despite both sides reaching agreement over the five-year dispute.

Last week, the Bury Times reported that the local authority and the biggest town hall union had reached a settlement over the issue with offers being made to hundreds of current and former female employees who were paid less than their male colleagues for doing work of equivalent value. In announcing the agreement, council leader Mike Connolly said a joint application with Unison was being made to the Court of Appeal to defer an appeal hearing scheduled for March, thus saving further legal costs. But their bid failed.

A Bury Council spokesman said: “The judge said he had ‘reluctantly’ decided not to adjourn the appeal. This was on the grounds that some claimants had not yet reached agreement with the council and because an appeal by Sunderland City Council, which raises many similar issues to Bury’s case, is due to be held at the same time.

“Our position is clear. We wish to resolve all the equal pay claims taking into account our duty to the Bury taxpayer and to our current and former employees. We have already reached agreement with Unison covering 943 claims and we are in discussion with the representatives of the remaining 138 claimants.”