Birmingham City Council was ordered yesterday to pay more than #39,000 to 19 employees after a landmark legal victory brought by the workers' union GMB.
Each claimant will receive back-pay of between #600 and #3,500 to cover underpayment of user car allowances by the council, following its unilateral decision to stop reimbursing workers using cars with engines above 1250cc in October 1993.
The GMB sought to recover unpaid sums to the union members, who had all been employed by the council before that date, as a result of a continual breach of contract by their employer.
Most of the workers, including improvement officers, building strategy officers and service managers, are based in the council's strategies and standards department in Selly Oak.
Before October 1993, employees were paid at Band 3 - which included vehicles of 1250cc to 1450cc - but the council's decision to disregard that band led to the union bringing the case to Birmingham County Court in July.
The judgment, which was handed down last week, could result in more council workers bringing claims for unpaid allowances.
Last night, a city council spokeswoman said: "Any comments will have to wait until the judgment has been carefully and fully considered."
Andreas Austin, legal administrator for the GMB, said: "The union is delighted with this judgment as it represents a fair and just conclusion for not only our members involved in these proceedings but also other employees of Birmingham City Council."