Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union, has announced that over 300 refuse workers employed by Birmingham council will begin two days of strike action a week, starting Tuesday 19 February, in an escalation of the ongoing industrial dispute.

Two days a week of strike action

The two days a week of strike action, will be in addition to the overtime ban and the work to rule which the workers have been undertaking since Saturday 29 December 2018.

The dispute concerns the blacklisting of workers who took strike action to save their jobs in 2017. It was subsequently discovered that the council had made secret payments to refuse workers who did not support that strike action.

All employees must be treated equally

The dispute is a result of Unite attempting to ensure that all employees doing the same job are treated equally and are not discriminated against because of their choice of union or because they have taken lawful industrial action.

Following detailed negotiations at the conciliation service Acas, Unite had set the council a deadline of the afternoon of Friday 1 February to make an improved offer to the workforce. The deadline was put in place as it has also emerged the council was further blacklisting the workers by refusing their holiday requests.

Deadline passed

However, the deadline passed with the council failing to make an improved offer to the workers.

Unite is also aware that the council is in breach of the agreement to settle the 2017 dispute by employing agency crews to try to undermine the ongoing lawful industrial action.

Birmingham council failure

Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: “The decision to escalate the dispute and begin strike action is a direct result of Birmingham council’s failure to treat our members fairly.

“Rather than settle this dispute and end the discrimination the council has instead chosen to try to utilise anti-trade union laws and is penalising workers who have been taking industrial action by denying them their holiday requests.

“Unite’s members have taken the decision to move to full strike action as a last resort due to the council’s refusal to make a fair offer to resolve this dispute.

“This dispute is entirely of Birmingham council’s making and it is in the council’s hands to come forward with a solution to end the discrimination experienced by Unite members. If they fail to do so then the city’s residents will regrettably experience further disruption to their refuse service in the coming weeks.”


Notes to editors:

  • The strike dates that Unite has announced are: Tuesday 19 February, Friday 22 February, Wednesday 27 February, Thursday 28 February, Monday 4 March, Friday 8 March, Tuesday 12 March, Wednesday 13 March, Thursday 21 March, Friday 22 March.
  • In the industrial action ballot which was announced on December 14 the workers voted by 94 per cent in favour of strike action and 97 per cent for industrial action short of a strike.

Birmingham refuse workers to take industrial action in blacklisting payments dispute

For more information please contact Unite communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235.

Email: [email protected]

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