In the latest chapter of the Birmingham bin strike saga, Unite met Birmingham council yet again at the High Court this morning (February 28) as the council now seeks an injunction – using Tory anti-union laws — to stop union members from taking lawful strike action.
The court hearing comes as Unite members began a series of ongoing biweekly strikes last week (February 19) in a dispute over secret payments made to workers who did not take part in the 2017 bin dispute.
Unite argues that as the workers who took part in lawful industrial action were excluded from receiving these bonuses this amounts to blacklisting and the union is calling for their members to be treated equally.
Speaking outside the High Court today, Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said, “Incredibly we find ourselves back in the High Court – this time the council is attempting to injunct its own workforce who voted overwhelmingly to withdraw their labour by 95 per cent.”
“Extraordinarily we have a Labour council using anti-union Tory legislation to try to prevent that democratic voice from its own workforce,” he added.
Beckett pointed out that the application to the High Court from the council was made a full 89 days after the original notice to ballot, proving that Birmingham’s intentions are disingenuous and its case groundless.
Beckett called it “shameful action on behalf of a Labour council” and added that “hopefully today the court will tell them so.
He called on Birmingham council to do the right thing – reach a settlement and end the discrimination in the workplace.
“It’s a simple demand,” he said. “They made a payment to those who did not go on strike – a secret payment. They need to make good to the rest of the workforce; don’t come to court using Tory legislation and let’s see this dispute come to an end.”
Unite Birmingham bin workers are now being balloted for separate strike action over grave concerns about the council risking the safety of workers and the general public by ignoring the 2017 High Court agreement, which ended the previous dispute.
The deadline for ballot papers to be returned is next Friday, March 8.