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Birmingham bin dispute set for legal battle

Birmingham’s bin strike has been suspended after the High Court ordered an interim injunction on the city council’s plans to serve notice on 113 refuse workers.

Neither party will undertake any action until the outcome of a full hearing is known. A trial will determine whether Birmingham City Council issued the redundancy notices legally or not.

Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said the ruling would be “a huge relief to Birmingham’s bin workers” and added that it left the council’s “unfair and unjust plans in tatters”.

He also said Birmingham’s interim chief executive Stella Manzie “must now step down”.

“She has repeatedly used the threat of equal pay cases to frighten and bully the council into agreeing the downgrade of long-serving bin workers when it has no substance whatsoever and was not so much as mentioned by her legal team,” said Beckett.

A council spokesman said: “We obviously accept today’s ruling which will mean further consideration by the courts. The council wants to offer the best possible refuse service for citizens and wants to work with Unite and all the other unions to do this.

”We remain committed to resolving the dispute as quickly as possible and we hope Unite will support us in doing this.”

Staff have objected to a regrading exercise and changes to work patterns which Unite said would bring pay cuts of £3,500 to £5,000 a year. The council had said its proposed “modern refuse service” would save £5.2m annually by creating more than 200 permanent full-time jobs and reducing the use of agency staff.

Former leader John Clancy resigned on 11 September over his handling of the council’s side in the dispute.

A Government-appointed independent panel, appointed to oversee the authority in December 2014, is to remain in place as a result of recent developments regarding the bin dispute.

A version of this article first appeared in our sister title Local Government Chronicle.

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