11 March 2019 by Joshua Doherty

Council deal looks to end Birmingham waste strike

Strike action involving Birmingham refuse workers has been temporarily called off after the council tabled an offer it hopes will end the dispute.

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.

Birmingham residents have been issued with ‘contingency’ advice on recycling and waste collections due to ongoing industrial action

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.

However, under new proposals presented to the council’s cabinet on Friday (March 8) payments of £3,500 will be made to each member of staff on strike, which the council hopes will end the dispute.

The payment will be subject to formal approval at another Cabinet meeting on Friday (March 15). The union has since temporarily called off its strike subject to the proposals being approved.

The council added that it will also be “commissioning an independent review of the waste service” as part of the joint commitment to providing the best standard of service possible for Birmingham’s citizens, businesses and visitors.

Commenting on the latest development, 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.

“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.

“We all know the service needs to be better than it has been. This settlement will enable us to lay the foundations for improvement.

“The independent review will take a long, hard look at the service and come forward with recommendations that help us collectively achieve this.”

Unite

In response to the offer, the Unite Union called off upcoming planned strike action, and announced that a ‘heads of settlement agreement’ has been drawn up between itself and Birmingham city council.

“This is the first time that an agreement that meets the union’s expectations has been put on the table,” the union said.

It confirmed that if the cabinet approves the deal then the dispute will have concluded.

Commenting on the deal, Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: “For the first time there is a deal on the table which meets Unite’s members expectations, it is now imperative that Birmingham council’s cabinet signs up to the deal.

“I am sure that Birmingham residents will be keeping their fingers crossed that the cabinet does the right thing and this long running dispute is finally brought to a close.”

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