ST Helens Council is edging closer to settling all claims in its long-running equal pay dispute, it has been revealed.

The council lost a £70 million equal pay case in December 2015 after paying more than 2,000 female staff less than their male colleagues.

The case has been ongoing for years with the council taking it to an employment tribunal, an employment appeal tribunal and then making applications to the Court of Appeal.

The council decided not to pursue its application to the Court of Appeal, and subsequently agreed to pay out £3.5million to 129 GMB union members associated with the case.

The authority’s latest corporate financial report, which is published quarterly, revealed that 97 per cent of the claims have now been settled.

The report says: “The council faced significant liabilities from the ongoing equal pay and equal value claims, and members have been updated on the position in regard to settlement of these claims in a series of corporate finance reports presented to cabinet.

“The council began to receive individually signed settlement agreements, to accept the offers made from June 21, 2017, and as at September 2, 2018, the council had settled 97.08 per cent of the claims lodged.

“Work continues to either settle the remaining claims or have the claims struck out.”

A Liverpool employment tribunal in 2015 found the authority discriminated against around 2,400 women between November 2004 and February 2008.

The ruling heard that town hall managers had “protected” higher earnings of employees, such as bin men and street cleaners, between 2000 and 2008.

It found that workers in other roles, in jobs that were classed as being of equivalent value, were on the same salary grades but were getting paid less.

From 2004 until protected pay was scrapped in 2008 the women would have earned £70 million between them if they had been paid the same as the men.

The case was brought to the tribunal by Unison, GMB and Unite.