Birmingham bin workers set for further strikes

Birmingham bin workers set for further strikes amid High Court action

18 September 2017

Unite members working for Birmingham city council’s refuse service look set for a  fresh wave of strikes after voting overwhelmingly to extend their mandate for industrial action in the Birmingham bin dispute it was announced today (Monday 18 September).

With 92.4 per cent backing further strike action on a turnout of 72.7 per cent, the vote strengthens the likelihood of strike action stretching up to Christmas unless Birmingham council bosses honour the Acas agreement and resolve the Birmingham bin dispute. 

The current mandate for industrial action runs out on Friday 22 September. Today’s vote extends the period for strike action by a further 12 weeks after the first day of fresh action, which is to be confirmed by Unite in the coming days.

The result of the vote, required under the anti-union Trade Union Act, comes on the same day as a High Court hearing where Unite is seeking an injunction to force Birmingham city council to withdraw the redundancy notices it has served on refuse workers.

Commenting Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: “Birmingham city council can be under no illusion of the determination of the city’s refuse workers to secure the Acas deal agreed between Unite and the council.  

“As this overwhelming result demonstrates, Unite members are prepared for the long haul and to take strike action up to the end of the year. 

“This is not a step they want to take and one that will not be needed if the council honours the Acas agreement that was made in good faith.

“Our members want to get back to work and serve the people and households of Birmingham, but are determined for a just outcome. 

“We would urge the council to reflect on this overwhelming vote, honour the Acas agreement and end the misery its dishonourable actions are inflicting on the good people of Birmingham.”

The dispute, which has led to refuse workers striking for three hours on a daily basis, is the result of plans by Birmingham council to ‘delete’ the grade 3 bin loader role in a move that leaves workers facing pay cuts of up to £5,000 to keep a job in the refuse service. 

Unite and Birmingham city council reached an agreement at Acas that saw the retention of the grade 3 role with refuse workers moving from a four day week to a five day week in return. Instead of honouring the Acas deal, the council without warning issued redundancy notices to the affected workers.


For further information please contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869. 

Notes to editors:

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.