Birmingham Council leader resigns over rubbish collection disputes

12 Sep 17

The leader of Birmingham City Council has resigned from his role following weeks of refuse collector industrial disputes. 

John Clancy and his cabinet had failed to negotiate an end to the strike with the Unite union in mid-August.

The disputes, which are now costing an estimated £311,000 a week, up from £21,000 a week in July, started over a proposed shake-up to the service.

This would have seen city council ‘deleting’ 113 supervisory posts to save money.

The measure, meant to save £5.2m a year, comes as the council says its budget for waste management has fallen from £71m in 2011 to £65m and it has to balance its costs.

In a statement announcing his resignation yesterday he admitted: “I made some mistakes”. But, he stressed, he and his team had approached discussions with the best of intentions.

The Labour leader’s resignation came before he was due to face calls for his resignation this evening from Labour councillors and a possible vote of no confidence.

He has been leader since December 2015, when he took over from Sir Albert Bore.

In a statement on his blog he said: “It has become clear to me that frenzied media speculation about the Birmingham waste dispute is beginning to harm Birmingham City Council and the Birmingham Labour Party.

"I can see no end to such speculation, as ill-informed as much of it is, for as long as I remain leader.

“I have therefore decided to resign both as Leader of the Labour group and as the Leader of Birmingham City Council with immediate effect.”

Clancy said he was looking forward to spending more time with his family.

In addition to the loss of 113 posts the council wanted to create about 200 collection jobs for loaders, which would reduce its reliance on expensive agency workers.

Currently refuse workers have a four-day week of nine-hour shifts, but the council plans to change it to five days a week of just over seven hours a day.

Workers affected by the planned changes could lose £3,500 to £5,000 a year, according to the Unite trade union.

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