6 Days Remaining

Thursday 17th
posted by Conrad Landin in Britain

After weeks of inaction (and amid rising stink) chiefs are finally set to dump job loss plan – with poor grace

BIN WORKERS crushed council bosses’ recycled austerity plans yesterday after almost seven weeks of strike action.

Rubbish has piled up on the streets of Birmingham since refuse collectors began escalating industrial action on June 30. Workers had kicked up a stink after the city council said it would remove safety supervisors from the back of dust carts.

But now the council has backed down, agreeing to maintain the higher-grade jobs. In exchange, general union Unite, which represents the workers, will consider recommending a move from a four-day to a five-day week.

Normal bin collections will resume as Unite and council chiefs return to conciliation service Acas to resolve the outstanding issues.

Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: “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.

“I would like to thank them for their understanding over recent weeks.

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

At Acas both parties will discuss how to increase efficiencies in bin collections including potential cost savings and “development” of the roles of the higher-grade workers. Unite has agreed in principle to recommend changes to work patterns.

The union said that it agreed with the council that the “working week should be designed to maximise service delivery.”

Tensions in the dispute were heightened last week after an organisation, self-styled as the Bearded Broz, sought to break the strike by using a van to cart rubbish to the dump.

The group was referred to as a “scab army” in the Morning Star after they had been described as such by local trade unionists.

But the Star’s news report prompted a media storm. The Birmingham Mail said the description “harks back to 1970s ‘us and them’ politics.” Tory MP Julian Knight said the Star was “utterly monstrous.”

A Birmingham City Council spokesperson said the climbdown will need to be officially confirmed at a council special cabinet meeting on August 24.