Further Birmingham Bin Strikes “Certain” As Redundancies Go Ahead

Birmingham City Council will go ahead with issuing refuse worker redundancy notices, it has announced, after Unite urged the council’s cabinet to not “undermine” democratically elected councillors in its vote yesterday (31 August). The Union said further industrial action was “certain” if the deal fell through.

The council says it is now issuing redundancy notices to the grade 3 Leading Hands in the refuse service – as originally approved by Cabinet on 27 June, despite agreeing to restore the grade 3 jobs, which Unite says are responsible for the safety at the rear of the refuse vehicles.

Under the deal agreed at ACAS, the Council agreed that the grade 3 bin loader role would be retained and would keep their current responsibility for safety. In return, refuse workers would move from a four-day week to a five day week.

The agreement resulted in the cessation of an on-going refuse worker strike, which had caused a backlog of uncollected waste in the city and resulted in material separated for recycling by residents sent for incineration.

“Their agenda appears to have one mission and one mission only. Not the safety or interests of Birmingham’s residents, but a desire to prolong industrial action and see rubbish return to the streets of Birmingham.”

Yesterday the union urged the council’s cabinet to not “undermine” democratically elected councillors in its vote, saying the public “won’t tolerate” it.

Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: “Since the agreement was reached council officers have sought to undermine Birmingham council’s democratically elected leader with their attempts to unpick an agreement that sees compromise on all sides.

“Their agenda appears to have one mission and one mission only. Not the safety or interests of Birmingham’s residents, but a desire to prolong industrial action and see rubbish return to the streets of Birmingham.”

The redundancy notices, however, will be received today (Friday 1 September), a decision the council says is to “protect its legal and financial position”.

The council also says it wishes to continue its ongoing discussions through ACAS in parallel with seeking alternative jobs for the Grade 3s affected by redundancy.

Cllr Lisa Trickett, Cabinet Member for Clean Streets, Recycling and Environment, said: “None of the Grade 3 leading hands who are being made redundant need to lose their jobs with the council. Alternative Grade 3 posts, at the same salary in other parts of the council, are available for all those affected leading hands. No one needs to suffer a cut in their basic pay.

“The new waste collection system we are introducing will provide a better, more efficient service for citizens and will enable the service to be run within budget”

“We hope that, in view of the ongoing discussions with ACAS, Unite will not take their workforce back out on strike but continue in discussions with us and the other unions.”

However, Mr Beckett says a return to industrial action is “certain” should the deal fall through.

He said: “We would urge Birmingham’s cabinet to stand up to the unelected paid officers and do right by the city and endorse this deal.”

Cllr John Clancy, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “The new waste collection system we are introducing will provide a better, more efficient service for citizens and will enable the service to be run within budget.

“We will be creating more than 200 new refuse collection jobs for loaders. These will be full-time, offering a range of benefits, including pension entitlement and sick pay and will replace expensive agency contracts which do not include these benefits.”


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