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Council fails to win refuse strike injunction

The Unite union has postponed an all-out strike of refuse collections to allow for talks after Birmingham City Council failed in its bid to have the industrial action declared unlawful.

Unite said it has postponed the strike due to start today (4 March) “to again give the council the chance to do the right thing and end this dispute”, after the High Court refused to grant an injunction to stop it.

The dispute is linked to how an earlier strike in 2017 ended with additional payments being made to members of the GMB union, who did not go on strike.

Birmingham said this was compensation for the GMB being left out of talks on that settlement. Unite considers the payments were a reward for not supporting its strike.

Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: “The harsh truth is that rather than listening to the democratic voice of their own workers and putting right the wrong of ‘secret payments’ made after the 2017 dispute, the council has been more interested in trying to secure an injunction.”

Beckett said council officers had “sought to pit union against union, have sought to divert blame for this dispute from their own doors, and have consistently placed obstacles to prevent parity in the workplace”.

Unite is proceeding with a fresh ballot for industrial action, which closes on 8 March.

If the result supports further action and the planned series of intermittent all-out strikes resumes, they could then continue into the spring and summer.

Brett O’Reilly, Birmingham council cabinet member for clean streets, waste and recycling, said: “We have made a consistent, significant and reasonable offer, and we had every reason to believe that the ACAS [conciliation service] talks, which continued until the last minute, had been productive.

“We repeated our offer throughout the talks, and are very sad that the offer was not accepted.

“The very reasonable offer that was previously rejected is still on the table, but is conditional on all current litigation and industrial disputes being brought to an end, including the current ballot to finish on 8 March.”

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