Bins strikes may return in row over ‘payments’
THE Birmingham bin strike which wreaked havoc in the city last year could return at Christmas and over the New Year.
Refuse collections in Birmingham could grind to a halt over the festive period if members of the Unite union vote to strike.
If it goes ahead, they could walk out from December 28, it has emerged.
The fresh row comes amid suggestions of alleged payments made by Birmingham City Council to refuse workers in the GMB union.
Last summer, members of the GMB union did not take part in the longrunning strikes which caused chaos for Birmingham homeowners.
Howard Beckett, assistant general secretary of the union Unite said: “It is simply astounding.
He claimed: “By making these secret payments, Birmingham City Council has effectively blacklisted Unite members for carrying out their legal right to defend their jobs last year.
“The residents of Birmingham should be aware that the last thing Unite members want to do is disrupt bin collections over Christmas,” he added.
But the GMB said it was “not party to any payments relating to not taking strike action.”
Stuart Richards, GMB senior organiser, said: “GMB remains committed to working with our colleagues from other unions in the interests of council workers.
“We believe firmly that we are much stronger when we work together. This is why, over a number of months, we have made offers to sit down and talk about any issue or concerns and this offer remains open.
“In the meantime, I can confirm GMB has stood by our members and supported them when we believed the council did not comply with its legal obligations.
”However, we were not party to any payments relating to not taking strike action, and it would be inaccurate and misleading to suggest otherwise.”
Ballot papers will be sent out to Unite members tomorrow (Friday).
During the three-month dispute in the summer of 2017, mountains of rubbish were left piled up in the city’s streets.
The strike was over the council’s plans to “modernise” the rubbish collection service, which the union claimed would lead to the loss of 100 jobs. A peace deal was finally reached between the council and the unions last November.
The strikes of last year, which centred on a controversial modernisation plan, lasted for 222 days. The council said the changes would lead to a more “modern, effective and efficient waste collection service”.
The new scheme has now been introduced but the bitter dispute led to the former leader of the city council, Cllr John Clancy, resigning last September after criticism of his handling of the row.
A spokesperson for Birmingham City Council said: “We are committed to delivering the best possible services for citizens as that is what they expect and we are continuing to work to improve waste collections.”
> The bins strikes during the summer of 2017 left bags of rubbish piled high on many streets in Birmingham