Latest Public Sector News

18.03.19

Birmingham bin dispute declared ‘over’ but strike action costs city council another £6m

The long-running Birmingham bin dispute appears to be over after the city council approved settlements worth £3,500 for each striking worker as it was revealed that the latest strikes have cost the council more than £5.8m.

Unite has said it considers the dispute to be over and weekly bin collections will resume from today after the terms were approved. The council’s leader stated there was now a “platform from which to collectively more forward.”

The dispute over ‘secret payments’ started in 2017 when 222 days of strike action by refuse workers from the GMB union cost the council a total of £6m.

Unite and Unison union members then went on strike at the end of December over ‘secret payments’ given to those GMB workers with the new industrial strikes demanding similar payments and complaining that some workers were being blacklisted.

Birmingham City Council approved a move in January to seek a court injunction again the union workers, which one council cabinet members called a “declaration of war.”

A judge dismissed the case, but earlier this month a new “heads of settlement agreement” was tabled and Unite’s assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said it was the first time a deal had met their expectations.

Now fully approved by the council, the deal will see the unions’ members each receive £3,500 payments although the cabinet decision could still be challenged via a ‘call-in’ application.

But a report has revealed that the latest industrial action cost the council more than £5.8m in legal costs and private contractors and opposition councillor Jon Hunt said the waste of money was “scandalous.”

The authority has said it will also commission a review on the future options for the delivery of its waste services which its leader Ian Ward said will “take a long, hard look at the service and come forward with recommendations.”

He said: “Since the start of this dispute we’ve said that a negotiated settlement was what everyone needed.

“There's been a determination this week on all sides to bring this dispute to an end and we now have a platform from which to collectively move forward.”

Image credit -  Aaron Chown/PA Wire/PA Images

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