Mark Whitehead 15 February 2019

Union refused an injunction over ongoing bin dispute

A series of one-day strikes by refuse collectors in Birmingham is set to go ahead next week after a legal challenge by the Unite union failed.

In the latest development in the long-running dispute, the union was refused an injunction saying a staff member of a certain grade must be present on all crews.

Unite argued it reached an agreement with the council in late 2017 to bring an end to a three-month strike if the 'safety critical role of the Grade 3 Leading Hands' was protected from job cuts.

Birmingham City Council, however, says the Leading Hands role no longer exists.

The judge concluded that granting the injunction would put public health and safety at risk and 'at least to some degree, even if only temporarily, make a bad situation worse'.

However he also said Unite, which is also in dispute over payments made to members of the GMB union when the previous strike was settled, was 'likely to have the better of the arguments' when the case came to full trial.

Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said the decision to escalate the dispute by the staff, who are already on a work-to-rule, was 'a direct result of Birmingham council’s failure to treat our members fairly.'

'This dispute is entirely of Birmingham council’s making and it is in the council’s hands to come forward with a solution to end the discrimination experienced by Unite members.

'If they fail to do so then the city’s residents will regrettably experience further disruption to their refuse service in the coming weeks.'

But a spokesperson Birmingham council say they were 'disappointed' with the action and urged the union to continue negotiating.

'We utterly refute the allegations made and are extremely disappointed that the reasonable offer we have put forward has been rejected by Unite on behalf of their members.'

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