A HIGH COURT judge was asked by representatives of more than 100 striking bin workers yesterday to grant an injunction against a council that wants to scrap their jobs.
The hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in London is considering whether Labour-run Birmingham City Council has been fair in its plans to “restructure” its waste and recycling services.
Leaders from Unite the union want Mr Justice Fraser to block the redundancies, arguing that such plans are illegal and in breach of employment contracts. The hearing is due to end today.
Unite lawyers told the judge that council bosses wanted to remove a “leading hand” role and change a four-day, nine-hour shift pattern to a five-day, seven-hour arrangement.
Union leaders had raised health and safety concerns. They said that the “leading hands” have responsibilities that council bosses plan to reallocate to lorry drivers.
The judge heard that the bin workers had begun industrial action in July. They have been striking for three non-consecutive hours each day as well as returning to depots for their breaks.
The council is employing agency workers to clear the backlog of rubbish once a month.
Town hall bosses have failed to honour an agreement with the union and instead sent out redundancy notices to the middle-grade refuse workers on 31 August without warning.
On Sunday, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey called for the resignation of council chief executive Stella Manzie at a rally outside the offices of Birmingham City Council.
Council leader John Clancy quit earlier this month over the bin workers’ dispute.
He claimed “frenzied media speculation” about the dispute would continue to harm the council until he stepped down, but continued to defend his role, saying: “The actions I took along with my cabinet to negotiate an end to an extremely complex and difficult industrial dispute were done with the best of intentions.”