BIN CHAOS could return to Birmingham if the city’s councillors back out of a resolution to a long-running industrial dispute, refuse collectors’ union Unite warned yesterday.
Council officers have reportedly advised councillors that a deal thrashed out between the city’s political leaders and union reps could open the door to pay discrimination claims.
Unite said the legal advice was “misleading” and accused officials of “deliberately misinterpreting” the deal struck at conciliation service Acas that ended the seven-week strike.
Rubbish piled up on the streets of Britain’s second-biggest city after workers walked out in protest at the planned abolition of senior bin-loader roles that they said was vital for safety.
Under a compromise plan, the council agreed to retain the roles - with workers considering a move from a four day week to a five day week in return.
Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: “Unite is committed to the common-sense deal agreed with the leader of Birmingham City Council at Acas.
“We would urge members of the council’s cabinet to see through the council officers’ disingenuous and wilful misinterpretation of the deal and back it when they vote.”
Mr Beckett said officials had “sought to undermine Birmingham council’s democratically elected leader with their attempts to unpick” the deal.
Unite argues that the council’s claims that it would provoke equal pay claims are based on the notion that the bin loaders would lose responsibility for safety. Reps say they did not sign up to such a change.
“Their agenda appears to have one mission and one mission only,” he said. “Not the safety or interests of Birmingham’s residents, but a desire to prolong industrial action and see rubbish return to the streets of Birmingham.
“A return to industrial action is certain should the council officers get their way and this deal falls through. We would urge Birmingham’s cabinet to stand up to the unelected paid officers and do right by the city and endorse this deal.”
A council spokesman told the Birmingham Mail that city chiefs were seeking a “cost-effective and efficient service.”