Workforce, Pensions and Training

11.03.19

‘Breakthrough’ deal tabled between union and council in Birmingham bin strikes

Birmingham’s long-standing bin strike has been called off after unions said a new agreement had been tabled with the city council that for the first time meets their expectations.

Unite said it had cancelled its strike action, which first began back in 2017, to allow Birmingham City Council’s cabinet to discuss the proposed offer.

Unison and Unite union members went on strike late last year over payments given to refuse workers who were members of a different union, GMB, with claims of secret payments and black listing of workers.

The original GMB strikes in 2017 cost the city council an extra £300,000 a week in order to clear the backlog of rubbish and, after 222 days of strikes, cost the authority a total of £6m.

Birmingham City Council also approved a move to seek a court injunction against the Unite and Unison strikes, sparking one council cabinet member say it was a “declaration of war,” but a judge dismissed the case.

Now a new ‘heads of settlement agreement’ has been drawn up between Unite and the local authority, which will see the workers receive £3,500 payments and end the dispute.

The new offer will be subject to formal approval at another cabinet meeting on 15 March, with similar terms expected to be agreed with Unison before then.

The council said waste collection would go back to normal the week after next, and that the new deal will result in the withdrawal of all litigation and all industrial disputes with an additional independent review also being commissioned.

Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: “The heads of settlement is a real breakthrough in negotiations.

“For the first time, there is a deal on the table which meets Unite’s members’ expectations, it is now imperative that Birmingham council’s cabinet signs up to the deal.

“I am sure that Birmingham residents will be keeping their fingers crossed that the cabinet does the right thing and this long running dispute is finally brought to a close.”

Cllr Ian Ward, leader of Birmingham City Council, 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.

“Everyone involved has always had the same aim – to deliver the best possible service for citizens, as clean streets have consistently been named as the number one priority for the people of Birmingham.

“We all know the service needs to be better than it has been. This settlement will enable us to lay the foundations for improvement.”

Image credit - Aaron Chown PA Archive PA Images

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