Birmingham bin workers imposing a piss strike and work to rule over alleged secret no-strike payments made to members of the GMB union have been told they’ll now get redacted information on the scheme — but have also been threatened with Tory anti union laws by the Labour-run council.
Two other unions, Unite and Unison, began the industrial action on December 29th with 300 workers saying their GMB-member colleagues had appeared to take payments after refused to back a 2017 strike dispute over 120 job losses in the service.
The two unions have accused the council of effectively “blacklisting” members who went on strike and discriminating in favour of yellow union behaviour. The council has said that the payments, which amounted to £4,000 per GMB member, resulted from a legal claim related to a failure to negotiate on job cuts.
The work to rule has immediately impacted on rubbish collections, prompting a 500% rise in complaints, and a late-night council vote on Tuesday saw panicking councillors from the Labour-controlled council say they would use a legal injunction to force refuse staff back to work if the dispute continued. The council has allegedly already been trying and failing to use agency workers to strikebreak.
Astonishingly, this latest threat was followed directly by the resignation of the council’s own waste management chief councillor Majid Mahmood who Tweeted: “I will not be a party to using Tory legislation to attack our trade union comrades. This goes against the very fabric of my socialist principles.”
Birmingham Council leader Ian Ward has tried to downplay the resignation, saying it was “unfortunate” and the council simply wanted to “resolve the waste collection dispute as quickly as possible “
The council leader has repeatedly argued that he is merely reacting to deal with austerity cuts imposed at Westminster. In this case however, much of the recent disaster zone that is Birmingham Council’s finances, leading to the original bin cuts as well as a major showdown with care workers late last year, can arguably be laid at Mr Ward’s door.
He was heavily involved in and bragged about bringing the Commonwealth Games to the city for 2022, a decision which lumbered the council with an £84 million bill (equivalent to 15 years of paying the 120 staff Birmingham Council wanted to cut) when its emergency savings fund had hit lows of £72.2m.