Birmingham Bin Dispute: Unite Balloting For Further Industrial Action

Unite is currently balloting members for further industrial action, following claims that the council is “ignoring” the High Court agreement which ended the 2017 dispute.

The union says the council is “ignoring” the High Court agreement which ended the 2017 strike, by sending refuse collection vehicles out “without sufficiently trained staff in place, endangering the safety of the workers and the general public”, it says.

The ballot for this industrial action will close on Friday 8 March and additional industrial action could begin by late March and run throughout the spring and into the summer.

A Birmingham City Council spokesperson responded to the claim, saying: “All city council employees who deliver waste collection services have health and safety responsibilities – it is not exclusive to a certain grade or role.

“The same can be said for any agency or contract worker we utilise for missed collections or the contingency plan to mitigate the effects of the current industrial action.”

Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett – “The residents of Birmingham are seeing their rubbish pile up because of secret payments agreed by council officials and those same officials have for weeks now been busy trying to cover their own backs, rather than allow the elected councillors to resolve the dispute.”

The fresh industrial action is in addition to strikes that are already underway, which came about after concerns of alleged “blacklisting” of refuse workers who took strike action in 2017.

The union claims that the council made payments worth “several thousand pounds” to a group of refuse workers who did not take part in last year’s bin dispute.

The council said that no payments were made to employees who were represented by the GMB union in the refuse service for not going on strike during the industrial action last year.

As a result of the strikes,contingency plans set up by the council to deal with the city’s waste during this time may mean “the general waste and the recycling are mixed and put into the back of the same collection vehicle, but only where a separate service is not possible,” the council said.

Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett, said: “The residents of Birmingham are seeing their rubbish pile up because of secret payments agreed by council officials and those same officials have for weeks now been busy trying to cover their own backs, rather than allow the elected councillors to resolve the dispute.”

Unite says it “remains committed” to entering into further negotiations to end the dispute once and for all by agreeing parity payments for the workforce. It says “in this sprit” It has called off the strike scheduled for today (Monday 4 March) to “allow talks to proceed”.

“Now we would urge the trades unions to return to talks to avoid further damaging action.

Cllr Brett O’Reilly, Cabinet Member for Clean Streets, Waste and Recycling, said: “The very reasonable offer that was previously rejected is still on the table, but is conditional on all current litigation and industrial disputes being brought to an end, including the current ballot to finish on 8 March.”

The strike dates that Unite has announced are: Friday 8 March, Tuesday 12 March, Wednesday 13 March, Thursday 21 March, Friday 22 March.

In the industrial action ballot which was announced on December 14 the workers voted by 94% in favour of strike action and 97 per cent for industrial action short of a strike.


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