1. ITV Report

Fresh strikes in long-running Birmingham bin dispute

  • Bin workers in Birmingham went back on strike today.
  • They claim the City Council made secret payments to their colleagues who didn't strike last summer.
  • More than 300 workers are set to walk out.
  • The industrial action could continue into 2020.
Credit: ITV Central

Bin workers in Birmingham are going back on strike in a dispute over alleged "secret payments" to some staff in the city.

The industrial action by the union Unite concerns a row about the alleged cash handouts made to staff at the union GMB, who did not take part in 2017 strikes.

The 2017 walkouts, starting in June and lasting three months, were triggered by an announcement of job losses.

It caused widespread disruption for residents, who were left with rubbish piled in the city's streets.

  • Our business correspondent Mark Gough explains what the on-going dispute is all about:

Unite has called the latest industrial action, which will see 10 days of strikes over five weeks - starting Tuesday - a "last resort".

More than 300 workers are set to walk out. Members of Unison are also due to go on strike, starting Friday.

Picket lines will be running, two days a week, at four council depots between 5am and 2pm, Unite said.

It's a matter of last resort, we've been forced into this.

I don't believe this council has the necessary leadership.

It's bleak. It is sending a clear message to Labour councillors, and saying 'is the leadership of this council up to the task or not?

Frankly, if they're not up to the job, they should step aside.

– Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett
Credit: ITV Central

The difference between the local authority's current offer and what the union is asking for, for members, is £600, according to Unite.

Meanwhile, council chiefs have told residents a temporary fortnightly bin collection service will be operating from the start of this week, in a bid to avoid the return of 2017's unsightly rubbish piles.

Council bosses have said that it may mean rubbish and recycling being disposed of together, on occasion, "to keep the streets clean".

We have made it very clear that the payments to GMB members at the root of this dispute...were not payments for working during the industrial action.

As stated previously, we have put a reasonable offer on the table to end this dispute.

We'd urge the trades unions to put this to their members so they can give it the serious consideration it deserves.

We need to get back to the task of providing a service that citizens expect and deserve.

– Birmingham City Council
Credit: ITV Central

A special cabinet council meeting to discuss the bin dispute is due to take place this week.