Refuse collectors in Birmingham successfully took industrial action in 2017 after Birmingham City Council (BCC) reneged on a pay agreement and tried to coerce workers into backing down with a threat of redundancy. The revelations – many exclusively by the SKWAWKBOX – brought about the resignation of the BCC’s then-leader.
Now Unite members among the workforce have voted overwhelmingly in favour of new action after ‘bad faith’ actions by the council in the wake of last year’s action came to light.
In a ballot by the union, 73% of Unite members voted – with 97% of them voting for ‘action short of a strike’ (ASOS) and 93% in favour of full strike action.
The vote comes in response to the revelation that the council made ‘secret’ payments to members of the GMB union – which did not ballot its members – at the end of the 2017 dispute, but did not make payments to Unite members.
A Unite source told the SKWAWKBOX:
The council’s actions have been a disgrace. GMB members, whose terms and conditions were protected by the action of Unite members received a secret sweetheart payment.
The council tried to hide behind confidentiality, but eventfully had to admit the payment but claimed it was for not consulting. That is nonsense, for three reasons:
1. the GMB were involved in over 57 hours of consultation
2. a failure to consult payment is when there is the prospect of dismissal. The only stage the GMB were not involved in was the court case settlement which was not about dismissal but preserving the grade
3. you can only be compensated for failure to consult if you can show losses. They had no losses because of our actions in preserving the grade.
They can call it a payment to consult but it was not. It was a sweetheart payment for those who didn’t strike.
Another described the council’s behaviour as ‘bad faith, pure and simple‘.
Details of the planned action should be available shortly. Birmingham City Council has been contacted for comment but has not yet issued a statement.
BCC is a Labour-run council. Its actions last year were not fitting for Labour council, as Unite’s Howard Beckett pointed out to the TUC conference. That it resolved the strike by returning to its word but then immediately made these secret payments shows that things have not improved under its new leadership.
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