Council targeted by new equal pay claim after bin strike
EQUAL pay lawyers are again targeting Birmingham City Council staff in the wake of the latest bin strike – claiming the authority could be landed with another huge bill.
In the last decade the council has been forced to pay out more than £1.1 billion in equal pay claims and was forced to sell major assets like the NEC, ICC and NIA and Grand Central Shopping Centre to offset the bill. Even then it needed huge loans which will be paid back for decades – taking funds from frontline services.
Unique bonuses, shift allowances, shorter working hours and routine overtime paid to binmen up to 2011 but not made available to other staff including care workers was a key factor in the equal pay claims. The council lost a series of embarrassing court cases over the issue.
Now lawyers are again signing up staff with fresh claims having seen the council’s huge £8.4 million bill last year for overtime and agency staff working on the bins.
Darren Smith of Equal Pay Legal said he believed a combination of the four-day week and high level of overtime suggested other council staff had a claim.
He said: “The bin strike has nothing to do with agency staff costs.
“It is about the council trying to remedy the relative overpay of binmen as it is so keen to avoid a huge equal pay liability.
“The council is terrified of the huge liability they have left the Bir- mingham tax payers by not addressing this issue properly in 2011.”
But both the city council and unions have rejected the claim. A trade union source said: “This was all sorted out years ago after the last strike.
“Our lawyers and council lawyers confirmed the structure agreed in 2011 was equal pay compliant.”
The council was not able to respond as the Post went to press but will do so in due course.
RUBBISH strewn across Birmingham’s streets is not down to the strikes but binmen not doing their jobs properly the rest of the day.
That was the view of Council Leader John Clancy, who said the authority instructed managers to “get tough” to ensure bins were being collected and emptied during the seven hours a day dustmen were on duty.
The Unite union has been operating a work to rule and overtime ban alongside daily two-hour strikes since the start of July.
Labour leader Cllr Clancy (Lab, Quinton) said: “There’s a two-hour strike each day and there’s other industrial action.
“Clearly, the impact of this is not necessarily the result of the two-hour strike. In those circumstances we have to respond to the fact the service is not being delivered in the way it should be delivered.
“We are insisting that even though people are on strike for two hours, they are still getting the job done in the times that they are not. People still have to do their jobs.”
He said that the authority had organised extra collections using private waste operators. At the weekend an extra 220 tonnes of rubbish was cleared.
“We had to have a big push at the weekend. I think as each day goes by we will find the city is getting in a better position,” he added.
Last week, council bosses wrote to the union warning it over the binmen’s performance – but Unite dismissed the allegations as “spurious”.
Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: “The comments from the council leader Cllr John Clancy are unhelpful as Unite contin-
We are insisting that even though people are on strike for two hours, they are still getting the job done in the times that they are not Council Leader Clancy
> Council leader Clancy said the bins strike was not be blame for rubbish piling up, rather dustmen ‘not delivering’