Birmingham & Black Country

Further strikes in Birmingham refuse dispute

Shop stewards representing Birmingham bin collectors have decided to take two further half days of strike action.

Council binmen began working to rule on 22 December as part of a pay dispute.

Union representatives are due to meet the council on Wednesday. The strikes are set to take place in mid-January but the dates have not been confirmed.

Casual refuse workers have been brought in by the council to clear the backlog resulting from industrial action, severe weather and the Christmas break.

'Something positive'

About 480 council staff are involved in the dispute over pay which has arisen from the legal duty of councils across the country to ensure equality in men's and women's pay rates.

The GMB union said the pay review meant staff such as refuse workers, garage staff and road sweepers would lose about £4,000 a year.

Paul Langley, who represents GMB members in Great Barr, said the council would be told about strike dates within the next few days.

He said: "I had a meeting at 6 o'clock this morning, Perry Barr, with my members and Unite members with my other shop steward and it was 100%.

"I asked them 'will they back more industrial action?' and we had 100% backing on that."

'Significant problem'

Earlier, Roger Jenkins, from the union, said he hoped "something positive" would come from the meeting with council representatives on Wednesday.

The council has said it was holding regular meetings with the four unions involved in a bid to solve the dispute.

Earlier, Matt Kelly, head of operations for waste management at the council, said the Christmas break had seen a 33% increase in waste while refuse collections had also been hit by the snow.

Councillor Timothy Huxtable, cabinet member for transportation and regeneration, said by using its casual workforce of up to 23 crews it hoped to catch up the existing backlog by the end of the week.

He said: "In the meantime the majority of scheduled collections should still be carried out on the allotted day by the regular crews, operating on a 'work to rule' basis.

"Where this does not take place we will be retaining the casual workforce to catch-up with any gaps in the service as soon as they become apparent, which from next week with the backlog cleared, should be within a day or two."

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