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  1. ITV Report

Former City Council leader acted 'without authority' during Birmingham bin strikes

Rubbish bags piled up in front of bins in Moseley Road, Birmingham, during the industrial dispute Credit: PA

The former leader of Birmingham City Council is found to have acted without authority during last year's bin strikes, according to a new report.

It said Cllr John Clancy didn't have the power to make an agreement with the UNITE Union to try to end the industrial action.

In 2017 Birmingham City Council announced a redesign of its waste collections which included extending the working week for bin workers.

An executive summary of the internal report states:

  • Cllr Clancy did not have the authority by himself to make the agreement with UNITE
  • There may have been breaches of the Councillor Code of Conduct
  • Recommendations have been made to prevent similar circumstances arising in the future
Cllr John Clancy Credit: ITV News Central

Cllr, John Clancy claimed the report was a 'whitewash'. He said:

The report talks about the cost of Labour’s failures to the taxpayers of Birmingham, who are left picking up the bill and facing their services being cut to compensate for Labour’s failure to reform the Council.

– Councillor Robert Alden, Leader of the Conservative Group

The report also highlighted that cabinet members did not challenge the decisions of the then leader, Cllr John Clancy, for fear of losing their jobs.

It stated: “Cabinet members did not challenge the Leader collectively over his actions and did not stop Cllr Clancy as might be expected.

"At least one said that they did not do so because they did not want to lose their job as a cabinet member.”

Could the strikes return?

Last week, Birmingham bin workers voted to take industrial action over Christmas.

75% of union members turned out to vote and 95% were in favour of industrial action.

Members of the Unite union plan to work-to-rule from December 29th.

They won't work overtime or above grade and will return to the depot for hygiene breaks and lunch.

The union say if the dispute with Birmingham City Council over payments to GMB members not resolved Unite will escalate to full strike.

The on-and-off strikes lasted for 222 days and cost Birmingham City Council more than £6 million.

The Labour-run council’s then leader, John Clancy, was forced to resign after a deal he personally struck with Unite proved to be unworkable.

The dispute was finally settled last November, with crews agreeing to work five days a week instead of four in return for the council scrapping its plans to re-grade 106 workers.

Why did the dispute happen?

The Unite workers are angry because payments of up to £4,000 each were made last autumn to colleagues in waste management who belong to the GMB union.

The GMB did not take part in the long-running strikes over last summer but took the council to Acas over non-consultation on the new working practices which were brought in after the strikes were settled.

The Unite workers say the payments are unfair and were effectively a reward for not striking. Birmingham City Council and the GMB union both deny that claim.

The series of on-off strikes in July and August last year ran for 7 weeks during July and August leaving piles of rubbish all over Birmingham.

The dispute cost the City Council £6.3 million.