Birmingham City Council (BCC) triggered a lengthy dispute with Unite and Unison members of its refuse collection force by making an extra payment to GMB members who did not participate in the successful strike against pay cuts, redundancy threats and bad faith in 2017.
The council’s head of waste, Majid Mahmood, resigned earlier this month over the council’s decision to take the unions to seek an injunction against the unions for their industrial action – action that the council could have averted or delayed simply by responding to a letter from the unions – but instead it ignored it for over a month.
Leaked emails sent by Mahmood to councillors accused the council and its officers of withholding information and trying to cause waste-management services to fail in order to privatise them.
The council then forced a meeting hosted by arbitration service Acas to be delayed when it was not ready in time for the originally-scheduled time.
Now a further failure by BCC to meaningfully engage to solve the dispute has triggered union plans to escalate their industrial action from next week.
Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said:
To our intense disappointment Unite has not had a satisfactory response from the council about a way forward in resolving the dispute.
As a consequence Unite’s representatives have met today (Friday 1 February) and have agreed that the industrial action will be escalated.
The final details of how Unite plans to escalate the industrial action will be announced on Monday 4 February.
It was Birmingham City Council who took the decision to give secret payments to those who did not take strike action in 2017.
That payment has now been exposed and rather than attempt to justify what cannot be justified Birmingham council, even at this eleventh hour, still has the opportunity to do the right thing and settle the dispute.
This dispute was created by Birmingham City Council and they can bring it to an end by making a fair offer to our members. If they refuse to do so then regrettably Birmingham residents are set to face further disruption to their refuse service in the coming weeks. This is not what Unite members want to see.
BCC continues to withhold documents connected to the GMB payment – and refused to disclose them even to Majid Mahmood when he was the cabinet member responsible for waste management.
Birmingham residents – and the council staff who serve them – have a right to a Labour council that behaves like a Labour council. Labour members need to select new candidates in time for Birmingham’s next local elections to replace any who don’t live up to Labour principles.
Labour’s then-council leader resigned over council bad faith in the original 2017 dispute – existing councillors can make a move now in the right direction by selecting new leadership that will solve this dispute for the good of all.
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