Birmingham refuse workers to strike despite council offer

7 Feb 19

Refuse workers in Birmingham will strike over ‘unfair’ treatment of union members despite an offer from the council to resolve the issue. 

More than 300 Unite refuse workers employed by Birmingham City Council will resume strikes this week over complaints relating to union action in 2017. 

The union is also seeking a high court injunction against the council after accusing it of “breaking” an agreement cemented in law, which ended the refuse worker strikes nearly a year and a half ago. 

The current dispute relates to pay the Unite members say was given to GMB members who did not go on strike in 2017. They have claimed those who did strike in 2017 have been ‘blacklisted’ and denied holiday requests. 

The council has offered what it has called “a reasonable, well evaluated figure” to Unite members worth £2,000 to £3,000 each, but the union rejected it.

Unite said that it had set the council the deadline of Friday February 1 to make an “improved offer to the workforce” in which members would receive a payment equal to that given to GMB members, but the council failed to do so, the union said.

The strike action, announced on Monday, will be two days per week over a span of two months.

Howard Beckett, assistant general secretary at Unite, said the decision to strike was taken because the council was not treating members “fairly”.

“Rather than settle this dispute and end the discrimination the council has instead chosen to try to utilise anti-trade union laws and is penalising workers who have been taking industrial action be denying them their holiday requests.

“This dispute is entirely of Birmingham council’s making and it is in the council’s hands to come forward with a solution to end the discrimination experienced by Unite members. If they fail to do so then the city’s residents will regrettably experience further disruption to their refuse service in the coming weeks.”

A Birmingham City Council spokesperson said: “We utterly refute the allegations made and are extremely disappointed that the reasonable offer we have put forward has been rejected by Unite on behalf of their members.

 “To be absolutely clear, we have not blacklisted or discriminated against Unite members. The council condemns blacklisting of any sort.

“As previously stated on a number of occasions, then payments to GMB members were properly made for a failure to consult during the talks that ended the 2017 dispute.”

Strike action is due to take place on 19, 22, 27, 28 February and 8, 12, 13, 21, 22 March.

The 2017 strikes lead to the resignation of the council leader in September 2017.

They were over a reorganisation of the service, which would have seen the ‘deleting’ of 113 supervisory posts to save money.

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