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  1. ITV Report

Union leader calls for council official to step down

Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said the time had come for council bosses to honour an Acas deal which offered compromise. Photo: ITV News.

A union leader has called for a senior Birmingham City Council official to step down in the wake of a bin worker dispute over cost-cutting plans to restructure rubbish collections.

Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said the time had come for council bosses to honour an Acas deal which offered compromise.

He was speaking after a High Court judge spoke of an "extraordinary" and "astonishing" state of affairs at the Labour-controlled council as bin workers halted industrial action staged over redundancy plans.

Mr Justice Fraser said large amounts of rubbish had accumulated on the streets of Birmingham after refuse collectors took industrial action and that the dispute had led to the creation of a "schism" between councillors and council officers.

Mr Justice Fraser said large amounts of rubbish had accumulated on the streets of Birmingham. Credit: ITV News.

The judge raised concern as he ruled on the latest stage of a High Court dispute between the council and leaders of the Unite union following a hearing in London.

He said plans to make bin workers redundant should be shelved until the case had been analysed at a trial scheduled for November.

Union leaders also agreed to halt industrial action pending the outcome of that trial.

"This judgment will be a huge relief to Birmingham's bin workers, who in just a matter of weeks were facing losing their job or pay cuts of up to £5,000 a year. The High Court ruling leaves Birmingham council's unfair and unjust plans in tatters. The council needs to reflect on how it got here and the misery it has inflicted on the people of Birmingham and its own bin workers."

– Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett.
Credit: ITV News.

Mr Beckett said chief executive Stella Manzie should step down. He added:

"We urge the council to stop wasting further taxpayers' money in defending its dishonourable actions and honour the Acas deal which offers compromise on all sides and will settle this dispute once and for all."

– Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett.
Credit: Birmingham City Council.

A spokesman for the Labour-controlled council said:

"We obviously accept today's ruling which will mean further consideration by the courts.The council wants to offer the best possible refuse service for citizens and wants to work with Unite and all the other unions to do this. We remain committed to resolving the dispute as quickly as possible and we hope Unite will support us in doing this."

– Birmingham City Council.
Credit: BPM.

Robert Alden, leader of the council's Conservative group, said:

"Essentially, the judge was asked to decide between Unite's argument that the council acted in bad faith and reneged on a binding agreement, or the council's own argument that remarkably seemed to rest on the fact that it was too incompetent and divided to make a decision that it could be held to. The case will now go to a full trial where that legal argument will be tested further, protracting a conclusion to the chaos Birmingham residents have had to endure for over 80 days already."

– Robert Alden, leader of the council's Conservative group.

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