Birmingham refuse workers have renewed their strike action following the Labour council’s decision to renege on a settlement reached at ACAS and to issue redundancy notices.
This extraordinary and shameful about-turn by the council led to an unprecedented public statement from ACAS (in effect accusing the council of lying about the deal) and the resignation of discredited council leader John Clancy.
Paradoxically, the council’s treachery has boosted public sympathy for the workers, with a Birmingham Mail poll showing the majority of Brummies blame the council. Union branches and Labour parties have been passing motions of support and South Birmingham Momentum is pressuring Labour councillors to honour the ACAS deal.
Meanwhile, all the evidence points to the (unelected) council chief executive Stella Manzie having been the driving force behind the sabotage of the deal.
Disgracefully, the council is now attempting to recruit a new scab workforce, and inviting other council workers to work overtime to clear rubbish as part of a strike-breaking operation.
Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett moved an emergency motion at the TUC in support of the workers; he said, “I say to Birmingham councillors, if you continue to act like Tories then Unite in the region will deal with you as Tories.” This is, of course, exactly the right stance: Unite now needs to liaise with the GMB and Unison, whose members at the council also face job cuts: a united response across the council must be the next stage of the battle.
Unite West Midlands have set up a strike fund to support members suffering financial hardship. To make donations please contact Karl Greenway on 0121 553 6051.