Solidarity wth Birmingham refuse workers on strike today

Birmingham City CouncilRefuse workers at Birmingham City Council are today on strike over jobs. 

Unite has accused the council of ‘playing fast-and-loose’ over the union’s genuine offer to engage in talks with the conciliation service, ACAS, in a bid to save 121 jobs. The strike starts at 10.45am, finishing at 3.37pm. It will be followed by a series of two-hour stoppages starting at 6am on August 3, 11, 19 and 27 July and 4 August.

There will also be an overtime ban with workers adhering to their contracted hours (6am to 3.37pm), plus returning to depots for all lunch and tea breaks, also starting today.

Unite regional officer Lynne Shakespeare said: “I have been offering talks under the auspices of Acas since 16 June. Yet, it is only today that the council has offered informal talks, having waited 13 days to respond to Unite’s genuine offer of substantive talks at Acas.

“It is for the Birmingham public to judge who is dragging their feet over seeking a solution to this dispute. Our action starts tomorrow as the council has played fast-and-loose with our members’ jobs. The blame for any missed collections rests squarely on the council’s weak shoulders.  It has shown itself incapable of running the service, let alone capable of making any meaningful or positive changes to it.

“The 121 jobs the authority wishes to axe are safety critical for operation of the waste refuse service. Even at this 11th hour we call on the council, once again, to enter into talks with Acas, otherwise this dispute is set to escalate in the weeks ahead.”

Unite has said that the overspend for the 2016/17 financial year, previously thought to be £9.7 million, had been confirmed by a top council boss as rising to £11.9 million contradicting the authority’s previous press statements that these cuts were due to budget cuts and austerity measures.

Unite members voted by 90% for strike action over proposed job cuts to the city’s waste and refuse service and attempts by council bosses to tear up long standing agreements with the union covering staffing levels and working patterns. The workers also voted by 93 per cent for industrial action short of a strike.

The ballot results came on the same day as council bosses announced that they intended to make 121 waste collection staff redundant by the beginning of July which is about 20 per cent of the actual refuse collection squad.

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