Birmingham City Council Refuse Lorry

Birmingham City Council has issued a statement in response to possible strike action by waste refuse workers over the Christmas Period.

A Birmingham City Council spokesperson said: “We remain committed to working with our hard working and dedicated staff and the Trades Unions to deliver a waste service that the citizens of Birmingham deserve.

“The leadership of Unite have made a number of claims as to why they believe that new industrial action in the Waste Management Service is now required. The position of the Council is clear and unequivocal; no payments were made to Council employees who were represented by the GMB union in the refuse service for not going on strike during the industrial action last year. GMB did initiate the legal process against the council for a failure to consult claim. The Council went into talks with ACAS and the GMB union which then led to a settlement payment for the GMB Trade Union.

“We would urge all the Trade Unions in the Council to continue to strengthen the constructive relationship built over the last year in the Waste Management Service so that by working together we can deliver a modern and efficient service for every citizen of Birmingham.”

The strike ballot comes after the council recently admitted that it had made payments worth several thousand pounds each to a group of refuse workers who did not take part in last year’s bin dispute says Unite.

The union has also lodged claims with the Employment Tribunal Courts, saying that the payments are tantamount to the blacklisting of workers who took part in the long running bin dispute.

Commenting earlier this week Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: “It is simply astounding. 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.

“We have pressed the council to explain why it made these secret payments to workers who did not go on strike, but have so far been met with a wall of silence.

“As a result the council’s secrecy and what we believe as discriminatory behaviour has forced us to the point where we are pursuing legal action and now balloting for industrial action.

“The residents of Birmingham should be aware that the last thing Unite members want to do is disrupt bin collections over Christmas. We would urge the city council to come clean with our members and put a stop to its discriminatory blacklisting behaviour.”