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‘Treat our members fairly’ call

Birmingham bins dispute escalates as council ignores deadline for peace deal
Barckley Sumner, Monday, February 4th, 2019

Unite has announced that over 300 refuse workers employed by Birmingham council will begin two days of strike action a week, starting Tuesday, February 19, in an escalation of the ongoing industrial dispute.


The two days a week of strike action, will be in addition to the overtime ban and the work to rule which the workers have been undertaking since Saturday, December 29, 2018.


The dispute concerns the blacklisting of workers who took strike action to save their jobs in 2017. It was subsequently discovered that the council had made secret payments to refuse workers who did not support that strike action.


The dispute is a result of Unite attempting to ensure that all employees doing the same job are treated equally and are not discriminated against because of their choice of union or because they have taken lawful industrial action.


Following detailed negotiations at the conciliation service Acas, Unite had set the council a deadline of the afternoon of Friday, February 1 to make an improved offer to the workforce. The deadline was put in place as it has also emerged the council was further blacklisting the workers by refusing their holiday requests.


However, the deadline passed with the council failing to make an improved offer to the workers.


Unite is also aware that the council is in breach of the agreement to settle the 2017 dispute by employing agency crews to try to undermine the ongoing lawful industrial action.


“The decision to escalate the dispute and begin strike action is a direct result of Birmingham council’s failure to treat our members fairly,” said Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett.


“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 by denying them their holiday requests.


“Unite’s members have taken the decision to move to full strike action as a last resort due to the council’s refusal to make a fair offer to resolve this dispute.


“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.”


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