Unite has warned that it’s members will escalate their industrial action to a full strike after members of Birmingham City Council’s cabinet decided to seek an injunction if the unions refuse a formal offer to resolve the industrial action.
In a cabinet meeting yesterday (15/01) Cllr Ian Ward read out parts of a report from the council which called the industrial action by Unite and Unison “unlawful”.
The council has since today (16/01) announced that changes are being made to the contingency plan drawn up for bin collections.
Under the revised plan residents will see the introduction of a fortnightly service starting as soon as possible. When operational, residents should present both of their bins on the day their recycling bin is normally collected.
As part of the plans, crews will dispose of the content of bins in the most effective way possible. This may mean the general waste and the recycling are mixed and put into the back of the same collection vehicle, but only where a separate service is not possible.
The waste will be collected any time from 6am to 10pm, seven days a week, so residents are advised to leave their bins out if they not picked up by the usual collection time.
Cllr Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “We are determined to resolve the dispute and have had extensive talks with Trades Union colleagues via ACAS.
“But until we reach a resolution we need to do everything we can to minimise the disruption to the people who live in Birmingham.
“Based on the effect of the dispute so far, we have reviewed our original contingency and are now putting forward a plan that fits with the staffing resource we have available.
“I know the fact that we may not be able to recycle as much as we did before will be of concern to residents who are keen to do their bit for the environment, but our top priority has to be that of citizens overall – clean streets for Birmingham.
“We thank those who are committed to throwing away as little waste as possible and look forward to ending this dispute so they can resume their recycling.
“I would like to apologise for any missed collections that anyone has experienced so far. We are determined to get back to delivering the first-class refuse service the citizens of Birmingham deserve.”
In a statement posted on the Unite website yesterday, Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: “We had been led to believe that we would be heading to the conciliation service Acas tomorrow (Wednesday 16 January) to discuss an offer from the council to resolve the dispute.
“Instead it appears that this council wants to stand by the outrageous and immoral payments made to those who did not take industrial action in 2017 at the expense of those who took action to protect terms and conditions.
“Rather than recognising that the majority of the workforce has been blacklisted by the payments made and the need to give parity to its workforce, we have a Labour council doubling down in defending secret payments and shamefully looking to manipulate Conservative anti-trade union laws to punish its own workforce.
“We would urge the council to rethink and start meaningfully engaging with Unite over an offer to resolve this dispute otherwise we will be forced to escalate our industrial action to strike action.
“If not resolved the people of Birmingham will not forgive the council for this dispute.”
The city’s five Household Recycling Centres (HRCs) offer an alternative option for residents to dispose of all types of waste including recycling. Before any visit, residents can check opening hours and view the queues at their nearest HRC at https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/hrc