Laura Sharman 07 February 2019

Union seeks injunction against Birmingham in long-running bin dispute

Union seeks injunction against Birmingham in long-running bin dispute image

Unite is taking high court legal action against Birmingham City Council for operating refuse vehicles without safety critical role.

The union claims the council is sending out bin wagons without the safety critical grade three leading hands who operate at the rear of bin wagons.

The move comes after more than 300 refuse workers announced they will begin two days of strike action a week in an escalation of the ongoing industrial dispute.

Unite assistant general secretary, Howard Beckett, said: ‘At the heart of that dispute in 2017 was the safety critical role of the grade three leading hands at the back of bin wagons. They perform a crucial role ensuring the safety of the public and fellow workers alike around the rear of bin wagons.

‘This status was cemented in the legally binding agreement which brought that dispute to an end in 2017. That the council is now seeking to unpick it, while trying to defend the blacklisting of workers who took strike action to protect that role, is reprehensible and we believe unlawful.’

A Birmingham City Council spokesperson said: 'We once again entirely refute the latest misleading claims made by Unite.

'The Leading Hand role no longer exists. By agreement with Unite and with the backing of a Court Order in November 2017, it was replaced with the Waste Reduction Collection Officer role, which went operational in September 2018.

'Due to the industrial action instigated by Unite, we have had to introduce a contingency plan featuring the use of contractors (their own staff, fuel and vehicles) in order to continue to provide a waste service to the residents, visitors and businesses of Birmingham. This falls outside the remit of the agreement reached to end the 2017 dispute.

'Therefore the latest claims made by Unite are again simply without merit.

'We have made a reasonable offer to Unite to settle current litigation within a range between £2,000 to £3,000 for eligible claimants which has not been accepted by Unite’s leadership on behalf of its members and we would urge their leadership to get around the table with us at Acas as a matter of urgency so we can finally get back to providing the level of service that citizens expect and deserve.'

One year on, councils will be central to recovery image

One year on, councils will be central to recovery

After an extraordinary year, council staff are exhausted, worn down and facing further cuts, says Heather Jameson. But she has no doubt they will continue to rise to the challenge 'whether it is in an office, at home or on a laptop anywhere'.
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