Bedfordshire county council faces a bill of up to £4m after nearly 400 dinner ladies sued them for compensation and won.
Cooks and kitchen assistants will receive between £2,000 and £4,000 in back pay, after the council cut pay and conditions during compulsory tendering in 1994. The GMB and Unison unions, which backed the women, argued that the council had breached sex discrimination laws.
The settlement also provides for “full reinstatement of previous terms and conditions of employment for all employees from April 1997.”
Following local government reorganisation, Luton Borough Council now has responsibility for meals in some schools, while private firm Initial Catering won the £5m-a-year contract for the rest of the county in February 1997.
Initial said in a statement that all compensation and costs would be paid for by Bedfordshire council.