Birmingham bin dispute ends after council climb-down

Industrial action ends after Birmingham City Council bows to Unite’s demand for fair treatment for its members and for agency workers

The long running Birmingham bins dispute over ‘secret payments’ and the ‘blacklisting’ of workers has ended after Birmingham city council approved detailed legal agreements to correct its inequitable treatment of Unite members. As part of the agreement between the council and Unite:

  • all Unite members who were balloted for industrial action in 2017 will receive £3,500 to correct the discrimination of the council’s secret payment to GMB members
  • all workers who claimed they were blacklisted by having holiday request refused during the current dispute will receive £500
  • Unites’ high court case, concerning the council’s breach of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) which ended the 2017 dispute, will be terminated
  • the council will end the use of ‘mop-up crews’ without a qualified Waste Reductions Collections Officer
  • the council has committed to holding a recruitment day so that agency staff can apply for permanent positions
  • all other outstanding legal issues have been resolved

Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said:

Unite is pleased that it has been able to reach agreement with the council to finally bring an end to this lengthy dispute.

By standing together our members have secured an excellent settlement and ended the injustice that they had been subject to. Their success demonstrates what can be achieved when workers are united.

Unite has been consistent from the beginning of the dispute that our members were simply seeking parity, with the payments that workers who did not take part in the 2017, subsequently received. Once that principle was understood the dispute could be resolved.

Unite is firmly committed to developing strong industrial relations with Birmingham council in the future and hopes that the recent industrial disputes can be put behind us.

The council’s leader and deputy leader were referred to Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) for their conduct.

SKWAWKBOX comment:

The SKWAWKBOX congratulates the union and its members on another outstanding victory for solidarity and collective action. While this dispute has now been resolved, the unions are having to take legal and industrial action far too often to correct the behaviour of a supposedly Labour-run council.

Labour members in Birmingham are entitled to replace any councillors or candidates who are failing to live up to Labour principles in their treatment of some of the city’s lowest-paid workers and must do so at the earliest opportunity. Likewise, the NEC must not hold back if it feels action is required.

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  1. They’ve been paying £350;000 per week to try and break a strike whilst cutting services in order to pay for thr Commonwealth Games. There needs to be an independent enquiry in to how council’s officers including CEO, HR and leader & deputy leader acted in this dispute. They should be sacked. Hope the NEC throw the book at them.

  2. ” Hope the NEC throw the book at them.”

    Is that the book that contains the IHRA definition and that allows suspension (without proper process) of anti-racists if Israel sneezes?

    1. There was a really good article on Buzzfeed about the NEC meeting where Mr Watson was throwing his weight about. According to some at the meeting because of the councillors in Sandwell being investigated. We can’t be happy all the time with how things happen and people being disciplined. If we don’t like a decision we should ensure people are supported when things go wrong. We sometimes have to look at the bigger picture.

      1. I’m afraid, Christopher, that the ‘bigger picture’ isn’t too pretty – there are too many things going ‘wrong’.

        I sincerely hope that my lack of positivity in this regard is contradicted if things change – in the near future. Jackie Walker? Marc Wadsworth? Chris Williamson?

        Remember – Moshe Machover got redress by pressure and an irrefutable case – not the good will of the NEC.

  3. Labour members in Birmingham are entitled to replace any councillors or candidates who are failing to live up to Labour principles.

    It is a shame that the same can’t be said about getting rid of recalcitrant MPs. Unfortunately we still need to beg the NEC for permission to deselect an MP. It is disappointing that the Unions sabotaged the members wishes on this.

    1. I guess some unions believe they have some MPs in their pockets and want to keep it that way.
      Or maybe it’s no stronger than mutual support on a quid pro quo basis.
      AI is going to reduce the power of unions anyway – just as their shrinking memberships need them more than ever.
      I wish I was sure they wouldn’t kill the goose this time by fighting with each other over differentials.

      1. I think the Unions are scared of OMOV as it will reduce the power of Union bosses to directly influence Labour policy

      2. I have little doubt that unions would be better served by amalgamating as one union under the Labour umbrella – influencing policy, gaining political perspective and education and moving up through the party structure.
        I also have little doubt it won’t happen until they’re so weakened by falling membership, mutual competition and draconian legislation, by which time it’ll be meaningless.
        In all likelihood we’ll continue to disperse our efforts on minor differences while what should be our shared objectives continue to converge as lack of employment becomes the challenge that defines every society for decades to come.

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