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Birmingham strike ends at £6m cost

Birmingham City Council has settled its long refuse collectors’ strike at a cost of almost £6m.

A council report on the settlement reached said that increased payments to members of the Unite and Unison trade unions would total £1.78m.

The council also incurred £2.61m to cover contingency arrangements during the industrial action and legal fees of £1.45m, making £5.84m in all.

Unions have worked to rule since early January and last month threatened to move to a series of day-long all-out strikes.

Under the settlement the council will pay £3,000 each to union members involved in employment tribunal cases related to an earlier bins dispute, and £500 each to all members of the two unions involved.

The latter is an increase from the £300 proposed earlier last week. Outstanding legal actions on both sides will be halted.

Birmingham faced substantial costs if the industrial action continued through to when the tribunal case might be heard, expected this time next year.

The report noted: “The reasons for settling the [tribunal] claims of both Unite and Unison at these financial levels, resulting in the ending of the industrial action of both, are commercial rather than purely legal.”

There will also be an independent review on options for delivery of the waste service, but its scope is yet to be decided.

Leader Ian Ward said: “We all know the service needs to be better than it has been. This settlement will enable us to lay the foundations for improvement.

“The independent review will take a long, hard look at the service and come forward with recommendations that help us collectively achieve this.”

Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: “Unite is pleased that it has been able to reach agreement with the council to finally bring an end to this lengthy dispute.

“By standing together our members have secured an excellent settlement and ended the injustice that they had been subject to. Their success demonstrates what can be achieved when workers are united.”

 

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