UNITE’S resounding High Court victory should compel Labour-led Birmingham City Council to put an end to residents’ misery by negotiating fairly with the refuse workers’ union.
Local people have been faced with the health hazard of uncollected refuse piling up on the streets as a result of council determination to makes bin workers toil away for lower pay or lose their jobs.
The council portrayed its proposed changes to alter the working week from four days to five and to transfer back-of-wagon safety from loaders known as “leading hands” to the driver by means of CCTV as simply questions of improved efficiency. Its real motivation was to reduce the take-home pay of workers currently responsible for back-of-wagon safety. The workers and their union Unite have always stressed their readiness to negotiate responsibly with the council, having no desire to inconvenience local residents.
Indeed, they went to conciliation agency Acas with then council leader John Clancy and agreed a deal with him on August 15 that protected the grades and jobs of loaders while providing for the working week to be spread over five days.
The council disowned the deal a fortnight later, Clancy resigned, the council handed out 100 redundancy notices and the workers’ strike action, which had been suspended, was reinstated.
Mr Justice Fraser’s High Court ruling ordering the council to drop its redundancies plan pending resolution in November of the Unite legal claim that they are unfair and in breach of the Acas agreement has resulted in strike action being put on hold.
The picture he painted of council officers and councillors working against each other — indeed, of “chaos” reigning between senior personnel — has to change.
Unite’s demand that interim chief executive Stella Manzie step down indicates where the union and its members believe a major problem exists.
Labour councillors should be guided by their national party leadership to understand what is expected of them in this unacceptable situation and to work with the workforce and its union to end this sorry charade as a matter of urgency.
DONALD TRUMP’S speech to the UN general assembly ought to have persuaded even Theresa May that next year’s state visit to Britain should be dropped.
His casual reference to having to “totally destroy” North Korea, as a way to defend the US or its allies, showed cavalier disregard for the likely incineration of 25 million people.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov wasn’t perturbed by Trump’s genocide threat on grounds that this is no new departure, preferring to draw comfort from the US president’s declaration that Washington “would not impose its way of life on others.”
Such a claim disregards the hate-filled bombast directed by Trump against the governments of Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Syria and elsewhere as though they pose threats to their neighbours.
His speech sounded like a reprise of George W Bush’s Axis of Evil spiel, which spotlighted the enemy and history recounts US efforts to overthrow those regimes deemed unpalatable to the US.
Cuba was denounced as “corrupt and destabilising,” Iran’s chief exports listed as “violence, bloodshed and chaos,” Syria’s regime dubbed “criminal” and Venezuela’s situation termed “completely unacceptable and we cannot stand by and watch.”
Such attacks from someone who constantly asserts the “military options” available to him cannot be passed off as merely bluster.
They should be viewed as warnings that require mass mobilisation to expose and isolate the White House warmonger.