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Paying the price

Refuse workers to strike in job slash protest?
Shaun Noble, Monday, June 19th, 2017

Refuse workers at Birmingham city council, who voted overwhelmingly for strike action, are considering industrial action, as the council axes 122 waste collection jobs.


The refuse workers, members of Unite, voted by 90 per cent for strike action over proposed job cuts to the city’s waste and refuse service and attempts by council bosses to tear up long standing agreements with the union covering staffing levels and working patterns.


The workers also voted by 93 per cent for industrial action short of a strike.


The ballot results came at the same time as council bosses announced that they intended to make 122 waste collection staff redundant in the next fortnight which is about 20 per cent of the actual refuse collection squad.


“It is unfortunate that the day the ballot results came through, the council’s waste management service announced it intended to make 122 waste collection staff redundant in two weeks’ time,” said Lynne Shakespeare Unite regional officer.


Employees, who have worked, in some cases, for up to 30 years in waste services, are being told that they are no longer wanted and need to find alternative work.


“The loss of jobs in this area is a disgrace, as bosses continue to increase recruiting agency workers – there appears to be no coherent workplace planning by the council,” said Lynne.


“We discovered during the farcical consultation that the management has been instructing our members to collect side waste (boxes and bags left beside the bins) even though it is not budgeted for and to collect ‘green’ waste from residents who have not paid for this service,” she added.


The management has failed to keep to a budget, having created a huge £9.7m overspend in the financial year for 2016.


“The sad thing about this is that our members are going to pay the price for this incompetence with their jobs and the Birmingham taxpayers are picking up the tab for mismanagement of waste services,” said Lynne.


“We are currently consulting with our members as to the next steps in regards to industrial action as all of the 122 posts due to be cut are in safety sensitive areas, such as the operation and safety at the rear of the vehicles,” she added.

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