The council member responsible for the city’s waste has today resigned after Birmingham City Council’s Labour cabinet reportedly decided to seek an injunction against ongoing industrial action by refuse workers.
Cllr Majid Mahmood resigned from his role as Cabinet Member for Clean Streets, Waste and Recycling as the council’s course of action is at odds with his own beliefs.
Cllr Mahmood tweeted:
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 🌹
— Cllr Majid Mahmood 🌹 (@CllrMajid) 15 January 2019
300 refuse workers – members of the Unite union – are currently taking part in industrial action over ‘secret payments’ the council reportedly made to workers who were not involved in last year’s lengthy strike action.
97% of the workers voted to take action after the union accused the council of effectively ‘blacklisting’ workers who took part in the previous strike. An overtime ban and work to rule began just after Christmas, on 29th December.
And now Unite says the city’s Labour council is using ‘Tory anti-trade union laws’ to ‘attack it’s own workforce’, as it says the cabinet today decided to seek an injunction against the current action.
Unite warned that its members would escalate their industrial action to full strike action unless the council reversed its decision.
The union’s assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said:
“We had been led to believe that we would be heading to the conciliation service Acas tomorrow (Wednesday 16 January) to discuss an offer from the council to resolve the dispute.
“Instead it appears that this council wants to stand by the outrageous and immoral payments made to those who did not take industrial action in 2017 at the expense of those who took action to protect terms and conditions.
“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.
“We would urge the council to rethink and start meaningfully engaging with Unite over an offer to resolve this dispute otherwise we will be forced to escalate our industrial action to strike action.
“If not resolved the people of Birmingham will not forgive the council for this dispute.”
‘I love this city’
Cllr Mahmood felt strongly enough to leave the cabinet post he took over last year from Lisa Trickett, rather than support the cabinets decision. He told Birmingham Live:
“I love this city and this is the best position I have ever held but I cannot in all conscience continue to support an approach I don’t believe in.”
Cllr Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said:
“The people of Birmingham want us to resolve the waste collection dispute as quickly as possible and cabinet members agreed a way forward on Monday 14 January, but unfortunately Cllr Mahmood changed his mind and was subsequently unwilling to support that way forward.
“I thank Cllr Mahmood for his efforts over the last four years, but being in the Cabinet requires collective responsibility, respect for the respective roles of officers and members, and the courage to take tough decisions in the interests of those we serve.
“Our focus now is to test our legal advice and seek a resolution to this dispute through binding arbitration at ACAS.
“Our focus as a Cabinet is to resolve this dispute and to deliver clean streets, homes, jobs and opportunities for the people of Birmingham. Despite huge cuts we are achieving tremendous things for the people of this city, with the newly announced £1.5bn Smithfield development bringing jobs and homes, and the Commonwealth Games transforming our world standing in 2022.”
Industrial action is currently affecting refuse collections, with residents reporting missed collections and no bulky waste collection service operating at present.
During the action, the council has stopped separating recyclable waste, which is currently being sent to landfill along with general household waste.
Refuse is being collected between 6am and 10pm seven days a week. Residents are advised to place their bins out for collection on their normal collection day and leave them our until they are collected.