Birmingham refuse workers have returned to the picket lines after the Labour city council reneged on a deal and sent out redundancy notices.
Mountains of rubbish bags piled up on street corners before the last seven-week strike was suspended on 16 August after Unite and the council struck a deal at ACAS.
Now the council leadership has inexplicably torn up the deal (incredibly, even claiming that there never had been any deal!) and cancelled a meeting on Friday that had been called to ratify the settlement. Even ACAS has contradicted the council leader and confirmed that the council and Unite had reached an agreement.
More bin collections are now likely to be missed with many of the city’s streets still strewn with overflowing wheelie bins.
Unite has said it will re-ballot members, meaning industrial action could extend until the New Year. The union is also considering extending the action to other council workers and services.
Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: “This is a deeply provocative act that drives a coach and horses through the agreement Unite reached with the council in good faith at the conciliation service Acas.
“It does a great disservice to the people of Birmingham and the city’s refuse workers who now face being made redundant and losing their livelihoods or pay cuts of thousands of pounds.”
“Unite calls on the council to come to its senses and withdraw these redundancy notices to avoid the disruption of industrial action.
“John Clancy [council leader] has said there was no deal in place, which is just outrageous. It is completely contrary to the ACAS statement that says there’s agreement in principle for the Grade 3 to remain, and consequently no redundancy steps are in place.
“The council is in a shambles. They have rowed back from a good agreement and have returned us to industrial chaos.
“We will be balloting across the council because I am now convinced that this is an ideological message the council is sending out — that they intend cuts, and cuts widely to the workforce.”
South Birmingham Momentum, which prior to the 16 August suspension of action, was actively supporting the workers, will now resume its solidarity activities, and demand that the council honours the ACAS deal.
Consideration is also being given to a possible call for John Clancy’s resignation.