Birmingham’s bin collections have temporarily switched to once every two weeks from today (Monday 18th February). Birmingham City Council are introducing the fortnightly collections in an attempt to minimise disruption from ongoing industrial action by some refuse collectors.
Members of the Unite union will begin striking for two days a week from tomorrow (Tuesday 19th February)– on top of a work to rule and overtime ban which has been in place since January.
Secret payments and ‘blacklisting’
The workers are taking action in a dispute over ‘secret payments’ the council are reported to have made to workers – from another union – who did not take industrial action in 2017. Unite have accused Birmingham City Council of ‘blacklisting’ their members for striking.
Majid Mahmood (Lab, Bromford & Hodge Hill), resigned from his position as Cabinet Member for Clean Streets, Waste and Recycling in January, stating he was unable to support the actions of the council in the dispute.
Unite has also accused the council of further blacklisting by refusing workers their holiday requests.
The union also says the council is in breach of the 2017 settlement by employing agency crews to “undermine the ongoing lawful industrial action”.
Union and council officials had been negotiating through conciliation service Acas, with Unite setting Friday 1st February as the deadline for an improved offer to be made to the workforce.
Unite said that peace talks aimed at resolving the dispute collapsed last week, when Birmingham council made a poorer offer than that which was previously on the table.
Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: “Birmingham bin workers are taking strike action as a last resort.
“This industrial action is entirely of Birmingham council’s making. It was Birmingham council which made secret payments to bin workers who did not go on strike in 2017
“Then, when Unite discovered the secret payments, it was Birmingham council which refused to accept that it had blacklisted our members and refused to make an equal payment to our members.
“Since the dispute began it is Birmingham council which has been deliberately endangering the safety of workers and residents alike by sending out bin lorries without the required safety staff.
“It is Birmingham council whose actions led to the collapse of peace talks last week by tabling an offer which was worse than the one which Unite had already rejected.
“The resolution to this dispute is in the hands of Birmingham council which needs to end the discrimination and make payments to Unite members equal to what the non-striking workers have already received.”
Strike dates and how it will affect you
Unite have announced the following strike days:
- 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
Residents are advised to put both their general waste and recycling bins out before 6am on their normal collection day (fortnightly) and leave them out until they have been emptied (collections will be taking place between 6am – 10pm, 7 days a week). Birmingham City Council say that 2-3 bags of side waste will also be collected.
To check when your next collection is expected to be, enter your postcode on the Birmingham City Council website.
Lifford Lane Recycling Centre in Kings Norton (B30 3JJ) is open Monday to Friday 8am – 6pm and from 8am to 4.30pm on Saturday and Sunday. You can check the queue before setting off on the live webcam.