Birmingham Bin Strike “Suspended” After Union “Victory”

Unite has said it has achieved “victory” in the Birmingham bin dispute as it announces the suspension of the refuse collection strike across the city. 

The news comes following the announcement last week that the strike could continue until December.

The union now says said that the city council had accepted the refuse workers’ case and restored the grade 3 jobs, which are responsible for the safety at the rear of the refuse vehicles.

Normal collection of bins will resume, as Unite and the city council hold further talks under the auspices of the conciliation service, Acas, to resolve the outstanding issues, it says.

Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: “We are very pleased that we have reached the stage where we can suspend the industrial action while we hold further talks about the future of the refuse service.

“Unite will suspend the current round of industrial action that was due to run until 21 September to create a conducive climate for the talks to proceed smoothly. Our members will be working normally.”

“I know this news will be greatly welcomed by the people of Birmingham as they look forward to their bins being collected again on a regular and seamless basis. I would like to thank them for their understanding over recent weeks.

“Unite will suspend the current round of industrial action that was due to run until 21 September to create a conducive climate for the talks to proceed smoothly. Our members will be working normally.

“I would like to pay tribute to the city council leader Cllr John Clancy who has worked very hard and travelled the extra mile to achieve this solution, despite the reservations of some top council officials.

“The council has addressed our members’ concerns, including the safeguarding of the grade 3 post that is vital to the safety at the rear of the refuse vehicles. Unite also welcomes the fact that our suspended rep is now returning to work

“Unite recognises – and deplores – that local government in England has suffered swingeing cuts to its funding since the Tories came to power in 2010.

“Finally, I would like to thank our members for the solidarity they have shown in defence of a decent and well-resourced refuse collection in Birmingham, and their stand against job cuts and massive cuts to their wages.

“We will be entering into these Acas talks in a constructive and positive fashion – and recognise that there is still much hard work to be done.”

Terms

The terms of the agreement include Birmingham city council cabinet members agreeing in principle that the grade 3 posts will be maintained and, consequently, there are no redundancy steps in place.

In addition, the parties will now look to discuss, through Acas, how the service can be improved, with the intention of improving efficiencies in performance of the bin collection service generally, including what savings can be made, and specifically how best the current grade 3 roles can now be maintained and developed so that they take forward the ambition to deliver cleaner streets and align to wider “Total Place” principles.

Unite has also agreed, in principle, to recommend to its members work pattern changes, including consideration of a five-day working week. Both parties agree the working week should be designed to maximise service delivery.

These discussions will be with the intention of incorporating any agreement as an amendment to the Waste Management Service cabinet report in September 2017.

A Birmingham City Council spokesperson said: “The Acas statement in connection with the waste and refuse dispute does not represent the council’s position until these matters are considered at the council’s Special Cabinet Meeting on 24th August 2017.

“The decision on the waste reorganisation taken by Cabinet on 27th June is still the current position of the council.”

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