Unite urges cabinet to stand firm and save Birmingham bin deal

“Public won't tolerate undermining of democratically elected councillors on crucial Friday's vote,” says Unite.

Britain’s largest union, Unite today (Thursday 31 August 2017) urged members of Birmingham city council’s cabinet to back the deal agreed with the leader of the council, John Clancy, at the conciliation service Acas and bring the long running bin dispute to an end.

Urging councillors to stand firm when they vote tomorrow (Friday 1 September), Unite accused council officers of attempting to reignite the dispute and undermine Birmingham’s democratically elected leaders with disingenuous threats of the deal opening the door to equal pay claims.

Dismissing claims by council officers that the retention of the safety critical grade 3 loader role would lead to equal pay cases and job evaluation issues as misleading, Unite warned that officers were deliberately misinterpreting the Acas deal to provoke further industrial action.

Under the deal agreed at Acas, the grade 3 bin loader role would be retained and they would keep their current responsibility for safety. In return refuse workers would move from a four day week to a five day week.

Unite understands that council officers are basing their equal pay threats on responsibility for safety being stripped from the grade 3 bin loader and being given to the driver of the bin wagon. A change that was not agreed as part of the Acas agreement.

Commenting Unite assistant general secretary, Howard Beckett, said: “Unite is committed to the common sense deal agreed with the leader of Birmingham city council at Acas.

“We would urge members of the council’s cabinet to see through the council officers’ disingenuous and wilful misinterpretation of the deal and back it when they vote.

“Cabinet members must interrogate the officers ‘claimed’ legal advice that has been given on a misrepresentation that the Acas deal sees the safety supervision responsibilities going to the driver. 

“Since the agreement was reached council officers have sought to undermine Birmingham council’s democratically elected leader with their attempts to unpick an agreement that sees compromise on all sides.

“Their agenda appears to have one mission and one mission only. Not the safety or interests of Birmingham’s residents, but a desire to prolong industrial action and see rubbish return to the streets of Birmingham.

“A return to industrial action is certain should the council officers get their way and this deal falls through. We would urge Birmingham’s cabinet to stand up to the unelected paid officers and do right by the city and endorse this deal.”