Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union, has called on Birmingham city council to respect its own employees and end the bin strike, after the High Court judge rejected the council’s application for an injunction to block the strikes, and declared the industrial action to be lawful.

Negotiate a settlement

The union called on the council to negotiate a settlement rather than wasting taxpayers’ money on ‘futile’ legal action.

Having proven beyond doubt that the industrial action is lawful Unite has taken the step of postponing Monday’s (4 March) strike action to again give the council the chance to do the right thing and end this dispute.

The dispute is a direct result of the council’s actions following the 2017 strikes. After the strike ended the council made secret payments to a small group of workers who did not take part in the industrial action, therefore ‘blacklisting’ Unite’s members who took part in entirely lawful industrial action.

Dark day for Birmingham

Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett, said: “Yesterday was a dark day for Birmingham city council. A council that has the privilege of calling itself Labour tried to use Tory anti-union laws to block lawful strike action. There are many who should hang their heads in shame.

“The harsh truth is that rather than listening to the democratic voice of their own workers, and putting right the wrong of ‘secret payments’ made after the 2017 dispute, the council has been more interested in trying to secure an injunction.

"The council’s injunction proceedings came 89 days after they received notice of the industrial action ballot. Had the council been successful they would have taken anti-union legislation even further than it has been taken by the most anti-union of employers.

"The council needs to listen to their own workforce, stop blaming others for the situation they have created, do the right thing, end the disparity and so end the dispute.

“The council’s elected leaders need to take a hard look at themselves, find the ethics and morality that brought them to join Labour, and stand up to the council officers.

“Throughout this dispute it has been apparent that the council’s officers have sought to pit union against union, have sought to divert blame for this dispute from their own doors and have consistently placed obstacles to prevent parity in the workplace.

“The residents of Birmingham are seeing their rubbish pile up because of secret payments agreed by council officials and those same officials have for weeks now been busy trying to cover their own backs, rather than allow the elected councillors to resolve the dispute.

“Unite remains committed to entering into further negotiations to end the dispute once and for all by agreeing parity payments for the workforce. In that spirit we have called off the strike scheduled for next Monday (4 March) to allow talks to proceed”.

Fresh ballot

Unite is currently balloting members for further industrial action as a result of the council ignoring the High Court agreement which ended the 2017 strike, by sending bin lorries out without sufficiently trained staff in place, endangering the safety of the workers and the general public.

The ballot for this industrial action will close on Friday 8 March and additional industrial action could begin by late March and run throughout the spring and into the summer.


Notes to editors:

Birmingham council drinking in last chance saloon as Unite reschedules bin strike

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

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.

The 2017 Labour party manifesto committed the next government to overturning the Tory anti-trade union laws.