TUC condemns Birmingham Council for reneging on ACAS brokered bin strike deal

The TUC Congress has today (Tuesday 12 September) unanimously supported a Unite emergency motion, which condemns Birmingham Council for reneging on an ACAS brokered settlement that would have ended the Birmingham bin strike.

Having received the backing of the entire labour movement, Unite, the UK’s largest union, has announced that it will be holding a rally in support of the bin workers this Sunday (17 September). The rally will take place in Victoria Square, Birmingham. People attending the rally are asked to assemble from 11am and speeches will begin at 12 noon. Speakers will include Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite.
Rally in Support of Birmingham Bin Workers
Victoria Square
B1 1BD
Assemble 11am

The dispute is a result of plans by Birmingham Council to reduce the pay of refuse collection loaders by £5,000. Instead of honouring the ACAS deal, the Council without warning instead issued redundancy notices to the affected workers.

Unite is seeking an injunction against Birmingham Council’s issuing of the redundancy notices. The case will be heard in the High Court this Thursday (14 September).

Speaking in the debate, Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett, said: “These changes are being driven by Stella Manzie, a chief executive who receives £180k a year and has in the past claimed £160k a year in expense.

“Stella Manzie is wedded to austerity. She is a Tory. She is wedded to a course that will allow her to follow these cuts in grades with more cuts cross the council.

“The strike will continue because our members have something deep inside that the likes of Stella Manzie will never have. They have a strength from each other. They know that every x is a dagger to Manzie.

“Congress, Unite’s call to all the Labour Councillors is ‘look deep inside remember why Labour matters, be proud of your role, stand up for workers, protect their wages, be brave, be true to our class’. I say to them take these brave decisions for our class, honour the ACAS deal.”

The motion passed by the TUC stated: Congress records that the integrity of ACAS must be respected by employers and agreements struck at ACAS must be considered legally binding. The dangerous precedent of employers being able to break ACAS agreements would only lead to industrial action.

Unite is currently re-balloting its member for further strike action, as required by anti-trade union laws, the ballot will close on September 18. If, as expected, Unite’s members renew their strike mandate the industrial action will continue until the New Year.

Unite’s bin workers are currently striking for a total of three hours a day. Workers are also returning to the depot for all lunch and tea breaks in line with Birmingham Council’s hygiene policy.