Cabinet Member for Transportation and Regeneration, Bournville Councillor Timothy Huxtable today hit out at refuse collection workers, accusing them of employing “guerrilla tactics” in the ongoing dispute over pay. He claims that regular staff are purposefully leaving troublesome rubbish on their regular routes in areas where it will cause most problems to residents.
Councillor Huxtable said, “With the help of the public, media and other council staff we have tried to identify where this rubbish has been left and have been and continue to send our casual workforce to remove it. Regular crews are trying to jeopardise the efforts of our casual crews, by piling up sacks for collection and then leaving them. Residents also tell us that they are going into roads, groves and cul de sacs and driving out without collecting a single bag. Also the weight of the rubbish collected by many of the crews is significantly lower than usual due to the go slow.”
Casual crews will continue to be employed seven days a week throughout the industrial action, the councillor added.
When asked for comment, Longbridge Labour Councillor Ian Cruise said “I would like to know if Cllr Huxtable has any experience of collecting refuse within the City of Birmingham. He makes comments about binmen on a go slow. Over the years, binmen have provided an excellent service by working extra hours and working extra hard to clear the streets of refuse. You could say the City has been spoilt by the valiant efforts of the binmen. As they embark on a work to rule, the binmen are actually performing their roles correctly.”
Councillor Cruise went on to say, “The real problem lies with the Tory/Lib Dem administration. Firstly, they refuse to talk to the trade unions representing the binmen. Secondly, they withdraw agreed facility time for union reps to conduct negotiations with the Council. Thirdly, the administration, through Alan Rudge, Cabinet Member for Equalities and Human Resources, threaten to deduct monies from binmen because they now wish to perform their roles correctly. This Tory/Lib Dem administration has no intention of resolving this dispute. The Labour Group is talking to the Unions in a bid to facilitate a resolution to the dispute but in opposition there is only so much we can do. It may turn out to be a winter of discontent, but it is turning into a winter of incompetence for this Tory/Lib Dem administration. Both the Cabinet Member for Transportation and Regeneration, and the Cabinet Member for Equalities and Human Resources should seriously consider their positions.”
UPDATE – 10th January 2011
Conservative Councillor for Longbridge Keith Barton also provided a reaction: “The present dispute has come about because the Management of the Fleet & Waste Dept have identified savings that can be made within the waste collection dept. The Trades Unions are resisting these efforts by way of a work to rule, overtime ban and various other tactics which they hope will inconvenience the public, leading to pressure being put on the administration to buckle under and accept the status quo.Cllr Huxtable has outlined the way we are countering this attempt to bully the management and Council and these measures will remain in place whilst the dispute goes on.We apologise for the effects this is having but let us remember that Birmingham is one of the few cities that retains weekly collections despite all the pressure that was put on us by the previous Labour government.”
Birmingham City Council released a video on YouTube today, outlining the work carried out over the weekend.