Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, has said that the window of opportunity to settle the long running Birmingham bin dispute is coming to an end. If the dispute is not settled then industrial action will be escalated.

Over recent days Unite and Birmingham council have been locked in detailed talks hosted by the conciliation service Acas. The talks have failed to settle the dispute and Unite has now set the council a deadline of the tomorrow afternoon (Friday 1 February) in order to prevent a further escalation in the dispute.

The deadline came about after it emerged that Unite members in the city’s refuse service who are taking industrial action short of strike are having holiday requests denied forcing Unite to lodge further Employment Tribunal claims alleging that Unite members have again been blacklisted for taking Industrial action. Unite has also become aware of the council’s breaching the 2017 agreement and using agency crews to attempt to undermine the lawful industrial action.

Commenting Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: “This dispute is entirely of Birmingham council’s making, following the decision to secretly pay extra money to a small group of workers who did not take strike action.

“Birmingham city council officials need to take a long hard look at themselves and their misguided conduct.

“Unite has constructively engaged in talks to resolve the current dispute over ‘secret’ payments that were made to refuse workers who did not strike in 2017’s bin dispute.

“Yet the council, not content with threatening the use of Tory anti-trade union laws, is once again penalising workers for taking lawful industrial action by denying their requests for holiday.

“This is yet another example of Unite members being discriminated against for taking lawful industrial action. The council should be under no illusion. Unite will not allow its members to be treated less favourably than other sections of the workforce, or sit back in the face of tactics designed to intimidate our members.

“We would urge the council to drop the pound shop bully boy tactics amid mounting legal costs and engage meaningfully with Unite to ensure that our members in the refuse service have parity with the rest of the workforce.

“If not resolved the people of Birmingham will not forgive the council for this dispute.”


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235.

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.