Rubbish piles up in streets of Birmingham as binmen take industrial action

Rubbish piles up in streets of Birmingham has binmen take industrial action

Image: SWNS

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Residents in parts of Birmingham say they have been forced live among "disgusting" and "rotting" filth due to industrial action by binmen.

Birmingham City Council has now said it will start collecting rubbish on a fortnightly basis as the dispute over pay rumbles on.

More than 300 workers affiliated to the Unite union are taking industrial action over a £4,000 payment given to GMB members, who crossed the picket line in 2017.

The Labour-run authority is now considering taking court action against the binmen, who council leaders have branded "unlawful."

But Unite has warned another strike is inevitable if the council does not reverse the threat of a court injunction which could mark the return of chaotic scenes in the city.


'Waging war against the workforce'

Image: SWNS

Howard Becket, Unite assistant general secretary, said: "If not resolved, the people of Birmingham will not forgive the council for this dispute.

"We already have an overwhelmingly clear mandate from our workforce to strike. They have made a declaration of war against their own workforce."

A resident living on Cheddar Road, Balsall Heath, said: "Bin men are on a good amount of money, I can't believe they would leave the streets looking like this over a petty dispute.

"We are paying our taxes and should expect a basic level of service such as bin collections.

"We're supposed to be hosting the Commonwealth Games - but we are going to be a laughing stock."

Councillor Majid Mahmood, Cabinet Member for Clean Streets, Waste and Recycling, resigned from his post this week over the threat to take legal action against workers.

He said: "I am not going to be party to a Labour council using Tory legislation to attack bin workers, our brothers and sisters in the union movement.

"This goes against the very fabric of my socialist principles. I was elected by citizens on a Labour platform of equality, justice and fairness."


Payments to rival union

Unite claims rival union GMB's members were given individual payments at the end of the 2017 strike as a "reward" them for not taking part in the action.

But town hall chiefs and the GMB insist the payments were in settlement of a legal claim made by the union.

A Birmingham City Council spokesperson said: “We have made it very clear that the payments to GMB members were as a result of a failure to consult during the negotiations that ended the 2017 dispute.

"They were not payments for working during the industrial action."