Birmingham City Council accused of using 'Tory anti-union' laws to attack its workforce

Written by: Jo Gallacher | Published:
Birmingham City Council warns some waste will be mixed as a result of the industrial action

Birmingham City Council has been accused of using Tory anti-union laws to attack its own refuse workers by Unite.

The accusation comes at a time of heightening tensions between the Labour-led council and Unite following the resignation of its cabinet member for clean streets, waste and recycling Majid Mahmood.

This was partly due to the cabinet's decision to seek an injunction against Unite in an attempt to halt ongoing industrial action.

Action began on 29 December following Unite's claims that refuse workers who did not support 2017’s strikes were given ‘outrageous and immoral’ payments by the council.

On Twitter, Mahmood said: “I will not be a party to using Tory legislation to attack our trade union comrades. This goes against the very fabric of my socialist principles. I was elected by citizens on a @UKLabour platform of equality, justice and fairness #solidarity."

Unite warned that its members would escalate their industrial action to full strike action unless the council reversed its decision.

Howard Beckett, Unite assistant general secretary, added: “Rather than recognising that the majority of the workforce has been blacklisted by the payments made and the need to give parity to its workforce, we have a Labour council doubling down in defending secret payments and shamefully looking to manipulate Conservative anti-trade union laws to punish its own workforce.

“If not resolved, the people of Birmingham will not forgive the council for this dispute.”

Contingency plans

The council has introduced a temporary fortnightly waste collection, according to BBC reports, with Unite members only working contracted hours and returning to base for breaks.

An updated contingency plan for bin collections is currently in the works, with residents expected to put out both their bings on the day their recycling bin is normally collected.

Birmingham City Council said this may mean general waste and recycled are mixed where a separate service is not available.

Residents are also being offered an alternative to dispose all types of waste at one of the city’s five Household Recycling Centres (HRCs).

Ian Ward, leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “We are determined to resolve the dispute and have had extensive talks with Trades Union colleagues via ACAS.

“Based on the effect of the dispute so far, we have reviewed our original contingency and are now putting forward a plan that fits with the staffing resource we have available.”

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