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Strike days set in Birmingham bin row

The trade union Unite has called 10 days of strike action in an escalation of Birmingham’s refuse dispute.

Unite said its 300 members would stop work on non-consecutive days this month and next, starting on 19 February, having worked to rule since early January.

The row centres on how talks ended a previous dispute in 2017, when the smaller GMB union – which was not on strike – saw its members compensated because it was excluded from the negotiations.

Unite has said this amounts to an unfair payment to GMB members and its workers have been effectively penalised for taking industrial action.

Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: “The decision to escalate the dispute and begin strike action is a direct result of Birmingham council’s failure to treat our members fairly.”

The union said the dispute was the result of “Unite attempting to ensure that all employees doing the same job are treated equally and are not discriminated against because of their choice of union or because they have taken lawful industrial action”.

A Birmingham City Council spokesperson said: “We utterly refute the allegations made, and are extremely disappointed that the reasonable offer we have put forward has been rejected by Unite on behalf of its members.

“The Unite statement is not in the spirit of ongoing discussions at Acas, but we remain committed to resolving this dispute and the offer is still on the table.

“To be absolutely clear, we have not blacklisted or discriminated against Unite members. The council condemns blacklisting of any sort.”

The council said the payments to GMB members were made after an agreement with Acas because of the failure to consult that union during the talks that ended the 2017 dispute.

 

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