Bins strikes may re­turn in row over ‘pay­ments’

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Staff Re­porter

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

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