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Union ‘hails victory’ as Birmingham bin strike called off

Unite has “hailed victory” in its dispute with Birmingham City Council over refuse worker jobs being cut, and has suspended its current industrial action.

The union’s members announced the strike action in June after it was revealed that the authority would slash 122 refuse collection jobs, a claim that Birmingham City refuted.

It also comes only days after Unite warned that the strike, which was due to run until 21 September, “could continue until Christmas” if the council was not willing to sit down and negotiate a fair settlement.

Unite added that normal collection of bins will now resume as the union and the council hold further talks under the auspices of conciliation service, Acas, to resolve the problem.

“We are very pleased that we have reached the stage where we can suspend the industrial action while we hold further talks about the future of the refuse service,” said Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett. 

“I know this news will be greatly welcomed by the people of Birmingham as they look forward to their bins being collected again on a regular and seamless basis,” he added. “I would like to thank them for their understanding over recent weeks.”

The Unite general secretary also paid tribute to the city council leader Cllr John Clancy, who he said had worked very hard and “travelled the extra mile” to reach a solution, despite the reservations of some top council officials. 

“The council has addressed our members’ concerns, including the safeguarding of the grade 3 post that is vital to the safety at the rear of the refuse vehicles,” he explained. “Unite also welcomes the fact that our suspended rep is now returning to work.

“We will be entering into these Acas talks in a constructive and positive fashion – and recognise that there is still much hard work to be done.” 

But a statement from Birmingham City Council implied that a full settlement had not been reached, and that terms still had to be agreed at a later council meeting.

“The Acas statement in connection with the waste and refuse dispute does not represent the council’s position until these matters are considered at the council’s Special Cabinet Meeting on 24 August 2017,” a Birmingham City Council spokesperson said.

“The decision on the waste reorganisation taken by Cabinet on 27 June is still the current position of the council.”

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