Birmingham City Council (BCC)’s agreement with Unite and the city’s refuse collectors is now a matter of record after the SKWAWKBOX exclusively revealed an email from the council leader, which proved that he had agreed a deal with Unite’s negotiator during discussions refereed by mediation service ACAS – and had it ratified by the council’s cabinet.
The council pulled back from its firm commitment, issued redundancy notices to over one hundred ‘leading hands’ that it had agreed not to issue and claimed that the council leader had exceeded his authority in making the deal – some councillors even put forward a motion of no confidence in the council leader and wrote open letters criticising him. When the SKWAWKBOX revealed Clancy’s ‘smoking gun’ email, the council told the local Birmingham Mail:
Now the SKWAWKBOX can reveal firm evidence that Clancy was indeed acting within his authority.
Responding to the council’s actions after it tried to deny the agreement, Unite gave the council until last Monday to withdraw the redundancy notices, which the council ignored. So the union has initiated a legal case requesting an injunction preventing the council from proceeding with its plan, on technical grounds as well as the breach of its agreement.
Included within the evidence submission for that legal case is a damning email sent by ACAS’ Malcolm Boswell, of which the SKWAWKBOX has been able to obtain a copy. It states:
The email confirms that the agreement was made and that Unite had kept its side of the bargain. But it also confirms that ‘others at the highest level‘ knew what council leader John Clancy was doing and did not intervene.
‘[T]he highest level’ can only mean the paid executives of BCC, including interim chief executive Stella Manzie – and in fact, Mr Boswell made that explicit during the meetings between Clancy and Unite’s Howard Beckett.
The union’s evidence for its court case includes this statement:
Mr Boswell informed Mr Beckett at the meeting that Ms Kennedy, Ms Trickett and Ms Manzie had all been informed of the ACAS meeting for the purposes of arranging appropriate attendance and representation on behalf of the Defendant.
According to Boswell, Manzie the interim CEO, Lisa Trickett, the elected cabinet member for clean streets, recycling and environment and Jacqui Kennedy were all aware of the ACAS meeting and its purpose and were informed so that they could arrange an authorised representative to attend – one John Clancy, council leader.
ACAS is a – probably the – leading impartial authority on workplace relationships and provider of mediation in industrial disputes. Its position depends on that impartiality, so it will not be ‘taking sides’ in the dispute.
But it has made clear that it has no doubt that Clancy made the agreement – and that he had the authority to do so with the full foreknowledge of the council’s responsible cabinet member and its senior executive.
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