BIN workers in Birmingham resumed strike action yesterday after “provocative” councillors issued redundancy notices despite negotiations.
The workers, who are members of the Unite union, took seven weeks of strike action throughout July and August in defiance of council plans to shed 120 refuse staff – 20 per cent of the workforce – and cut wages by up to £5,000 a year.
The strike was suspended on August 16 after talks were carried out through conciliation service Acas, resulting in a temporary agreement.
Talks were to have resumed yesterday but the meeting was cancelled after the council issued redundancy notices on Thursday night. Pickets were in action first thing yesterday morning.
Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: “This is a deeply provocative act that drives a coach and horses through the agreement Unite reached with the council in good faith at the conciliation service Acas.
“It does a great disservice to the people of Birmingham and the city’s refuse workers who now face being made redundant and losing their livelihoods or pay cuts of thousands of pounds.
“The last thing refuse workers want to do is resume industrial action and see piles of rubbish accumulating on Birmingham’s streets. This is their city too.
“Our members want to focus on delivering a safe efficient service to the people of Birmingham.
“Sadly, it seems the council does not want to see that happen. Instead of embracing an agreement that would have seen compromise on all sides, the council seems content to put people on the dole and cut their wages by up to £5,000.
A spokesman for the council said it wanted to “continue its ongoing discussion with the trade union through Acas in parallel with seeking alternative jobs” for staff issued with redundancy notices.
But Unite called on the council “to come to its senses and withdraw these redundancy notices to avoid the disruption of industrial action.”