Birmingham & Black Country

New Birmingham bin strike threat over 'blacklist'

Bin bags piled up
Image caption Thousands of tonnes of waste were left on Birmingham's streets in 2017, the last time bin workers took industrial action

Birmingham bin workers are set to ballot on whether to strike again amid union claims some staff have been "blacklisted" for taking part in 2017's industrial action.

Unite says members in the city have been denied a council payment made to GMB members who did not walk out in the long-running dispute last year.

It says it is "highly likely" there will be further strikes, possibly during the Christmas period.

The ballot is due to open Friday.

The 2017 strike action lasted for three months and saw uncollected waste pile up on city streets and the then-council leader forced out.

Unite says in addition to the ballot, it is taking Birmingham City Council to an employment tribunal over the payment allegations.

The council issued a statement which said: "We are committed to delivering the best possible services for citizens as that is what they expect and we are continuing to work to improve waste collections."

Image caption Unite says strike action could begin during the Christmas period

In documentation outlining its grievance to the local authority, Unite said the nature of the payment was unclear, but regional secretary Howard Beckett said it amounted to thousands of pounds.

He told the BBC: "I know for definite the council made payments to those employees who did not take any industrial action and did not make a payment to those employees who did take industrial action.

"I think it is two plus two to reach the conclusion that was intended to discriminate against those who took industrial action."

The union's complaint alleges a "blacklist".

Stuart Richards, GMB senior organiser, said any suggestion of its members receiving extra payments for not taking strike action would be "inaccurate and misleading".

He said: "GMB remains committed to working with our colleagues from other unions in the interests of council workers.

"We were not party to any payments relating to not taking strike action."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A ballot on whether to strike is set to run for two weeks

The ballot is set to run for two weeks and if members voted to strike, Unite said it would then give the authority two weeks' notice, meaning action could begin on 28 December.

The 2017 industrial action began when the council's bid to "modernise" the service - to save £5m a year - threatened more than 100 jobs.

A new shift pattern was brought in for workers earlier this year as part of an agreement made to end the dispute.

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