A QUARTET of Dudley dinner ladies have been hit with legal bills of £5,400 after losing same pay claims.

The school lunch supervisory assistants who lost their claims for the same pay as council road sweepers and gardeners now have to pay Dudley Councils legal bill.

The authority was awarded the £5,400 costs at Birmingham Employment Tribunal after the Council successfully opposed the legal claims at a tribunal hearing in June.

Margaret Stanley, Carol Braiden, Michelle Johnson and Karen Churm, who all work at Alder Coppice Primary School, Northway, Dudley, wanted their equal pay backdated six years with interest.

The total would have been thousands of pounds in equal pay if the claimants had been successful and could have paved the way for hundreds of more claims from other employees.

Mrs Churm and Mrs Braiden are also cleaners.

All four women said at a previous hearing it was unfair that male employees should receive more money and complained they had not received bonuses paid to the men.

The women also referred to a job evaluation study in 1988 which they said declared their work was the equivalent to that of the gardeners and road sweepers.

The claimants had made their legal claims for equal pay against Dudley Council and the school. They claimed they were employed by the council.

Tribunal judge David Dimbylow rejected the claims after deciding that the women had been employed by a school foundation and not by the council.

At the latest hearing which was not attended by the women, Michael Stokes, for Dudley Council said the authority was seeking costs because the claimants had previously been warned that they had no prospects of winning their case.

He initially sought costs of £17,000 which was opposed by Simon Beddow, representing the claimants.

Mr Dimbylow said the tribunal had asked the women to reveal their financial situations prior to the costs hearing to help him make a decision but the claimants had not co-operated.

He was told the women were still working.

Mr Dimbylow said the tribunal rarely approved a costs claim but that on this occasion he believed a total of £5,400 was appropriate.

He said the payment would normally have to be paid within 42 days but he approved a request by Mr Beddow that the payment date should be extended.