15 March 2019 by Joshua Doherty

Birmingham and Unite end dispute

The long-running dispute between Birmingham city council and the Unite union has ended, after the council today (March 15) approved a legal agreement which brought an end to the dispute.

The Unite union said in a statement that it is pleased to secure the “excellent settlement”, which will see its members who were balloted for industrial action in 2017 receive £3,500.

In its statement, the council added that an independent review will also be commissioned on the future options for delivery of the waste service.

Workers in Birmingham represented by Unite have been in a dispute with the council since December 2018 over alleged payments made to workers who didn’t take part in separate strike action during the previous year.

Below are parts of the agreement as reported by the Unite Union.

Unite members voted in favour of a work-to-rule and overtime ban over the issue in December, before escalating this into a two-days-a-week strike which began last month (see letsrecycle.com story). Only three days of strike action have taken place.

Under the proposals approved by the council cabinet today, along with the £3,500, all workers who claimed they were blacklisted by having holiday request refused during the current dispute will receive £500

Also, Unite’s high court case concerning the council’s breach of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) which ended the 2017 dispute, will be terminated.

Heads of terms

In a statement issued online, Birmingham council confirmed that heads of terms between the council and the unions Unite and Unison that will bring an end to the dispute within the city’s waste management service were approved by the council’s cabinet today.

The settlement brings to an end the dispute, which stretches back to 2017

“Additionally, an independent review on the future options for delivery of the waste service will also be commissioned by the council as part of the joint commitment to providing the best standard of service possible for Birmingham’s citizens, businesses and visitors,” the council added.

Exact details of the independent review and its scope will be finalised in ‘due course’ and the terms of reference will be considered at a Cabinet meeting on March 26.

Cllr Ian Ward, leader of Birmingham city council, said: “Since the start of this dispute we’ve said that a negotiated settlement was what everyone needed.

“There’s been a determination this week on all sides to bring this dispute to an end and we now have a platform from which to collectively move forward. Everyone involved has always had the same aim – to deliver the best possible service for citizens, as clean streets have consistently been named as the number one priority for the people of Birmingham.

‘Excellent settlement’

Commenting on the deal, Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: “By standing together our members have secured an excellent settlement and ended the injustice that they had been subject to. Their success demonstrates what can be achieved when workers are united.

“Unite has been consistent from the beginning of the dispute that our members were simply seeking parity, with the payments that workers who did not take part in the 2017 dispute, subsequently received. Once that principle was understood the dispute could be resolved.

“Unite is firmly committed to developing strong industrial relations with Birmingham council in the future and hopes that the recent industrial disputes can be put behind us.”




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