The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 21st December 2018

Birmingham refuse collectors strike again

by New Worker correspondent

INDUSTRIAL ACTION by the refuse collectors of Birmingham has resumed. This time over 300 of them belonging to Unite have voted overwhelmingly for industrial action in protest at payments made to those refuse workers (mostly GMB members) who did not join in last year’s long running bin dispute.

Unite members voted by 94 per cent in favour of strike action and 97 per cent for industrial action short of a strike. The union argues that these recently admitted payments by the Labour council amount to discriminatory blacklisting and has announced a separate legal action at the Employment Tribunal.

Unite wants the council to treat all their employees doing the same jobs equally, and not to discriminate against employees because of their choice of trade union or because they have taken lawful industrial action.

To this end, the workers will start an overtime ban and a work-to-rule starting at midnight on Saturday 29th December. This will involve workers doing no overtime, adhering strictly to job grades and descriptions and to contractual start and finish times. Unite members will also return to work-base yards for washing facilities for all 15-minute concessionary breaks and half-hour lunch breaks in line with the council’s hygiene regulations and instructions.

Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett blamed the council for this action, saying: “The individuals who took the decision to make such payments must be accountable to the public. To this end, we have openly written to each Labour councillor to explain the utter nonsense of the excuses given by the council for the payment to the GMB members.

“This was blatant blacklisting — an attempt by the council to prefer workers in a union that did not take industrial action.

“The work to rule is designed to be proportionate and to allow the council time to do the right thing. It will be disruptive, but the council should listen to the message from their workforce and take immediate remedial action.

“How the council responds will dictate whether this dispute escalates or is resolved. The people of Birmingham should watch the council’s every move and hold their councillors to account for their decisions and actions.”