Waste Management

18.01.19

Cabinet member resigns over Birmingham council’s ‘declaration of war’ against staff unions in long-running bins dispute

Birmingham City Council is seeking a court injunction against refuse workers striking against fortnightly rubbish collections, sparking the cabinet member for clean streets, waste and recycling to resign in protest.

Majid Mahmood, a member of the council’s leadership team, said he cannot be part Birmingham’s decision to take legal action against the unions for what it says is an unlawful industrial dispute.

Unison and Unite responded with a threat of immediate strike action, with Unite’s assistant general secretary calling the council’s decision a “declaration of war” and saying a new bins strike is now “inevitable.”

An urgent cabinet committee of Birmingham City Council’s cabinet agreed to apply to court for an injunction to end the “unlawful” action. Following the meeting, Cllr Mahmood announced he was stepping down, tweeting about the situation.

The workers are protesting against payments of up to £4,000 each made last autumn to colleagues in waste management who belong to the GMB union.

Unison’s regional secretary Ravi Subramanian said in a statement that the council’s cabinet had acted with increasingly poor labour values in recent weeks, including the secret payments to another union and proposals to impose massive pay cuts on low paid workers which has led to the extensive strike action.

The industrial action started on 29 December after 95% were in favour of the strikes.

On-and-off strikes in 2017 lasted for 222 days, costing Birmingham City Council more than £6m in total, and caused the then-leader of the council John Clancy to resign before it was eventually settled in November.

The council has apologised for disruption to waste collections during the current strikes and said it was temporarily moving to a fortnightly collection service to provide more clarity.

Image credit -  Aaron Chown/PA Archive/PA Images

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