Refuse collection workers at Birmingham city council have started voting in an industrial action ballot today (May 31) amid accusations of financial mismanagement and an overspend by council bosses of £9.7m.
The Unite members are angry over proposed job cuts to the city’s waste and refuse service and attempts by council bosses to tear up long standing agreements with Unite covering staffing levels and working patterns.
Unite has been involved in a consultation with managers of Birmingham city council’s waste management and refuse service over the cuts, which bosses blamed on budget cuts and austerity measures. Unite has subsequently learned that the service overspent its budget by £9.7m in the financial year for 2016.
The ballot closes on Wednesday, June 14 and raises the possibility of strike action and disruption to refuse collections in the summer months.
“We engaged with waste and refuse bosses in a constructive manner only to learn that it was a massive overspend which is driving these cuts and not austerity measures,” said Unite regional officer Lynne Shakespeare.
“To date, despite repeated requests, we have not been given any information as to how and why such a huge sum was overspent in a year. Instead bosses are ploughing on with their cuts leaving workers to pick up the pieces for their financial mismanagement and taxpayers out of pocket.
“We would urge management to begin listening to the workforce and to start talking meaningfully with Unite to avoid the prospect of industrial action in the coming months.