Birmingham refuse workers to take industrial action in ‘blacklisting payments’ row
- Friday 14 December 2018
Over 300 refuse collectors, working for Birmingham city council, have voted overwhelmingly for industrial action in the blacklisting dispute over payments made to refuse workers who did not support last year’s long running bin dispute.
The workers, members of Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, voted by 94 per cent in favour of strike action and 97 per cent for industrial action short of a strike.
Unite wants the council to treat all employees doing the same jobs equally and not to discriminate against employees because of their choice of trade union or because they have taken lawful industrial action.
To this end, the workers will start an overtime ban and a work to rule starting at 00:01 hours on Saturday 29 December.
The industrial action 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.
Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: “This is an overwhelming ballot result that shows that our refuse collection members are not prepared to be discriminated against, compared with another group of workers who received thousands of pounds for not taking part in last year’s dispute.
“The individuals who took the decision to make such payments must be accountable to the public. To this end, we have openly written to each Labour councillor to explain the utter nonsense of the excuses given by the council for the payment to the GMB members.
“This was blatant blacklisting - an attempt by the council to prefer workers in a union that did not take industrial action.
“We are seeking a working environment where equality and non-discrimination are key pillars of the council’s working practices.
“The work to rule is designed to be proportionate and to allow the council time to do the right thing. It will be disruptive, but the council should listen to the message from their workforce and take immediate remedial action.
“How the council responds will dictate whether this dispute escalates or is resolved. The people of Birmingham should watch the council’s every move and hold their councillors to account for their decisions and actions.
“Unite members have no wish to inflict disruption and upset to the people of Birmingham, but they have no option but to take action to protect their collective rights. The blame for this dispute lies squarely at the door of the council.”
The industrial action will mean workers working no overtime, adhering to their job grades and descriptions and contractual start and finish times. Unite members will return to work base yards for washing facilities for every 15 minute concessionary breaks and half hour lunch breaks in line with the council’s hygiene regulations and instructions.
Unite has also lodged claims with the Employment Tribunal, saying that the payments are tantamount to the blacklisting of workers who took part in the long running bin dispute.
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on: 020 3371 2065
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web: unitetheunion.org
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.