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Bin men strike over job losses and ‘bullying culture’

Refuse workers are taking strike action in July and August Photo: ITV News

Bin men are taking strike action after Birmingham city council announced job cuts, amid claims of ‘a bullying culture’ and financial 'incompetence'.

121 waste collection jobs are under threat and Unite, the country’s largest union, accused the council of ‘playing fast-and-loose’ over the union’s genuine offer to engage in talks with the conciliation service, Acas.

The dates refuse workers will take strike action are:

  • Monday 3 July
  • Tuesday 11 July
  • Wednesday 19 July
  • Thursday 27 July
  • Friday 4 August

Birmingham City Council are urging residents to try to reduce the amount of waste they put in the bin.

Unite regional officer Lynne Shakespeare said:

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.

– Lynne Shakespeare, Unite

Unite members voted by 90 per cent for strike action over proposed job cuts to the city’s waste and refuse service. The workers also voted by 93 per cent for industrial action short of a strike.

The council said it does have plans in place during the dispute, Council Corporate Director for Place, Jacqui Kennedy said:

As a council, we are facing significant financial challenges. Since 2010 all council services have been impacted by cuts to local government funding. In Birmingham our spending on waste management has reduced from £71million to £65million between 2011 and 2017.

These pressures mean that if we do nothing, the service is likely to overspend by £5.2million in future years...

... It is extremely important that we move away from relying on expensive agency staff. At the moment 200 out of 595 employees in refuse collection are hired from agencies. We intend to replace agency staff with up to 246 full-time staff employed directly by the council. All of these new permanent employees will enjoy the associated benefits that come with working for the council such as pension, holiday entitlement and sick pay.

– Council Corporate Director for Place, Jacqui Kennedy