Britain’s largest union, Unite called on Birmingham city council to honour the Acas agreement and resolve the Birmingham bin dispute after the High Court ruled in the union’s favour today (Wednesday 20 September) and ordered the council to withdraw redundancy notices it had served on 113 refuse workers.
As part of the ruling, Unite agreed to suspend industrial action involving the refuse workers, until a full hearing, the date of which is to be confirmed. Bin workers were due to continue their industrial action of three hours a day until Friday 22 September when their existing mandate ran out, but will now return to working a full day.
Unite also agreed to suspend calling further industrial action as part of the ruling. Earlier this week refuse workers voted overwhelmingly to extend their strike action by a further 12 weeks after the first day of fresh action.
Commenting Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: “This judgment will be a huge relief to Birmingham’s bin workers, who in just a matter of weeks were facing losing their job or pay cuts of up to £5,000 a year.
“As part of the ruling Unite will suspend its industrial action until the matter is put before a full court hearing at a later date.
“The High Court ruling leaves Birmingham council’s unfair and unjust plans in tatters. The council needs to reflect on how it got here and the misery it has inflicted on the people of Birmingham and its own bin workers.
“At no stage did the council raise in court the issue of equal pay and potential costs. This scaremongering has been outed by the court proceedings as a work of pure fiction.
“Stella Manzie, the chief executive of Birmingham city council, must now step down. She has repeatedly used the threat of equal pay cases to frighten and bully the council into agreeing the downgrade of long serving bin workers when it has no substance whatsoever and was not so much as mentioned by her legal team.
“This ruling underlines that Unite will not shrink away from using all the tools at its disposal to defend its members and the services they deliver.
“We urge the council to stop wasting further taxpayers’ money in defending its dishonourable actions and honour the Acas deal which offers compromise on all sides and will settle this dispute once and for all.”
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.
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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.