Birmingham bin strike day 1

Perry Barr depot this morning

Montague pickets and Howard Beckett

Redfern road pickets

Lifford Lane all out

It was a solid start to picketing and strike action this morning as bin workers escalated their action against Birmingham city council. The Council, controlled by the local Labour party continues to set aside £350,000 a week for private contractors to enrich themselves rather than settle the dispute with Unite.

Cameras at Tyseley depot this morning are indicative of a rising sentiment of disbelief that the cash strapped council remains so insistent in pursuing it’s mad policy. The media reports will be watched attentively by all those in the labour movement.

Solidarity with the striking workers will be key to winning the dispute.

To get involved with our campaigning work in defence of the bin men, leave your details below:

Three cheers for Unison bin workers out on strike! What next for the bin men?

cash for scabs.jpg

Unite have accused Birmingham city council of rewarding those who worked through the 2017 Birmingham bin strike

The Birmingham Mail has reported that Unison have today announced that their members will join with Unite members currently in dispute with the city’s waste services.

Whats happening with the dispute?

Is there a difference between Ian Ward and John Clancy? Is there any difference between Lisa Trickett and Majid Mahmood? Is there a difference between coke and pepsi?

Some people believe there are two Labour party’s – a good one and a nasty one. Howard Beckett considers himself a member of the good one. Then there is Councillor Majid Mahmood who also considers himself a member of the good one, being a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn. It’s not that long ago that Howard Beckett was able to tell picket lines that he had been assured by John Clancy that John was a ‘gud old fashioned Labour party man and the workers could trust him. Comrade Clancy stabbed everyone in the back, and he himself was stabbed in the back by his comrades in the Birmingham Labour party.

Workers have to ask themselves – is there any difference between Majid and Lisa, between Ian and John? Birmingham Worker says that there is no fundamental difference between any of these career politicians; they all serve themselves. The Labour Party is a party, it is not the will of one person. In Birmingham the Labour party is rotten to the core, it has stabbed the bin men in the back before and it will do so again. Being in a trusting relationship with the Labour party is like having a cheating spouse.

What’s going on at the top?

Cllr Majid is surely a candidate to get Ian Ward’s job, and no doubt Howard Beckett and the Unite Labour party members would be very supportive of any aspirations he might have. If Cllr Majid could just get a couple of thousand pounds each for every bin man then no doubt Unite will back him for the top job once Ian Ward is out of the way. To do this Majid may possibly have to expose Ian Ward and others for the deals they’ve done with council officers, unfair appointments to jobs and blacklisting are just a few of the accusations currently circulating throughout the council.

If a deal is done, Unite the Union’s Labour party leadership will say that Cllr Mahmood is a decent man who has done a splendid job for Unite’s members, and everyone will celebrate a huge victory, just like before. The bin men may receive a payment in the short term, but it will be extremely difficult to wage a later struggle against the unjust agreement that was implemented in the first place. The struggle for the return to the compressed working week, the collective task and finish will be lost and the public support for industrial action in the near future will be low. Workers shouldn’t sell themselves short, why not demand:

  • jobs for the agency workers
  • the payment of the money for all TU members
  • A return to the compressed working week
  • A return to the collective task & finish

To be kept informed with the activities of the Birmingham Worker Party please get in touch:

Why are my bins not collected?

Thousands of bin collections are being missed because of Birmingham councils ineptitude and refusal to listen to the people who deliver the service.

The escalating problem was discussed this afternoon at a mass meeting of Unite members at the Birmingham and Midland Institute.

Labour councillors last year wasted more than £6million of tax payer’s money attempting to attack the wages of local bin men, £6m that could have been spent on child services, looking after our elderly and preventing the worst effects of poverty in Birmingham.
Having lied to the public last year during the bin dispute, the Council have again double-crossed workers. In bringing the dispute to an end last year, a MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) between the council and the workforce was agreed. Measures set out a new five day work pattern, an undertaking to employ the dozens of agency workers on proper contracts and agreed to ensure that every general bin wagon had a proper full time driver, WRCO (waste reduction collection officer) and loader. These men are graded 4, 3 and 2 based upon the level of responsibility each man has.

Missed collections

Hundreds of roads are having their collections missed as a result of the new 5 day pattern. On a single Monday in November 170 roads were left with rubbish on the street.

Pleading poverty the Council has failed to employ new full time staff as agreed last year. Casual agency labour should have had contracts by now, but the council is stalling as punishment for strike action last year. The council has failed to properly plan the refuse service resulting in thousands of missed collections, is refusing overtime to council staff to clean up the littered roads and is instead trying to pay agency labour to cover their tracks, and is blaming the whole saga on lazy bin workers who they claim are not doing their bit. This would be the same workers who in 2017 agreed to work an extra 50 days a year for no extra pay!

Bad employment practices

In an attempt to divide the workforce and punish those who went on strike in defense of a safe and efficient service, the Council has rewarded those workers who are members of unions which did not take strike action. Although it claims to be out of money the council has paid sums of £4,600 (and more) to workers who didn’t strike, and has allowed members of other unions to continue to work a four day week. It is quite clear that Birmingham City Council thinks it can divide some, bribe others and turn its back on every agreement it makes with workers and their trade unions.

Money to cover up their mess

Last year the council squandered £millions on confidential payments to private refuse firms during the strike. Somebody got very rich, very quick… The council claims it has no money for essential services, is cutting nurseries and attacking care workers, yet they have found hundreds of thousands of pounds to spend on the new Birmingham Wholesale Market which they built as a joint investment with private finance up in Perry Barr. And having built it badly, the council has spent hundreds of thousands in rectification works. Elsewhere they have introduced car parking charges at public parks and recreation areas, pricing out many ordinary families, and int he service of big business their rates department harass small cafe owners in search of increases in the rent. They are acting like gangsters, and clearly think that their two-faced tactics will be enough to beat the bin men. The bin men, and Birmingham residents have to say together that enough is enough!

Lessons from 2017

When the bin men went up against the council last year, it was in defence of terms and conditions. The workers had to fight a Labour council, every bit as bad as any Tory council. Unions try to prevent strikes against Labour councils, they prefer to make deals with Labour councils because unions are full of Labour party members. They all share comfy jobs and don’t want to derail the gravy train. Unite were desperate for a deal right from the moment Howard Beckett arrived, Unite had no faith in victory unless it was declared in Court, Unite have given away the best part of 50 rest days a year, not only rest days for Grade 3’s but also Grade 4’s & 2’s. They said no other deal was possible. But is that true? Strike action cost the council over £6million – it nearly sank them! Unite threw their friends in the Labour council a life line by calling off the strike action TWICE and giving away the rest days of all grades.

Poverty on the rise as Birmingham’s Labour council freezes burial fees!

Poverty on the rise as Birmingham’s Labour council freezes burial fees!

An article carried in the Independent newspaper says the “Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF)[i] found that Britain’s record on tackling poverty had reached a turning point and was at risk of unravelling, with nearly 400,000 more children and 300,000 more pensioners living in poverty than five years ago. Their report showed a total of 14 million people in the UK currently live in poverty – more than one in five of the population.

Now the latest figures, collated by the End Child Poverty coalition through analysis of tax credit data and national trends in worklessness, estimate that child poverty in Manchester and Birmingham stands at 44 per cent and 43 per cent respectively. In the London borough of Tower Hamlets this reaches 53 per cent.

When broken down into constituencies, the figures indicate that Bethnal Green and Bow in London has the highest child poverty rate at 54 per cent, while in Ladywood in Birmingham 53 per cent are living in poverty. Among the 20 parliamentary constituencies with the highest levels of childhood poverty, seven are located in London, three in Birmingham and three in Manchester.[ii]

Our Labour councillors last year wasted more than £6million of tax payer’s money attempting to attack the wages of local bin men, £6m that could have been spent on child services, looking after our elderly and preventing the worst effects of poverty in Birmingham. Now they announce plans to cut a further £53m off the budget despite hiking up the Council tax this year.

The Birmingham Post reported Council Leader Ian Ward saying “We have listened and, even at a time of continuing government cuts, we are investing in the services that matter most to the people of Birmingham.”

According to the Post “Labour bosses said they had listened on several key issues, including reducing the tax hike, freezing burial and cremation fees and not introducing charges for library book reservations.”[iii]

It will be little comfort for our poor and needy to know that what wasn’t spent keeping them alive has been kept back for their everlasting interment.

What you can do

If you want to fight for a better Birmingham, and a better world, join the campaign to elect Birmingham Worker candidates to the city council:

[i] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/poverty-britain-joseph-rowntree-foundation-report-theresa-may-social-mobility-commission-million-a8089491.html

[ii] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/child-poverty-uk-cities-london-birmingham-manchester-welfare-cuts-benefits-food-parents-households-a8174436.html

[iii] https://www.birminghampost.co.uk/news/regional-affairs/birmingham-council-storing-up-tax-14280869

Promoted on behalf of SammI Ibrahem, Reuben Lawrence & Katherine Cremer by Birmingham Worker 274 B12 0BS

“new” bin deal – what they give with one hand they will take with the other

The Labour party today brought it’s “new” proposals to the city cabinet for resolution of the Birmingham bin strike. The “new” report was kept secret and not even the councillors favourite journalists were allowed sight until this morning when Kathryn Stanczyszyn of the BBC began to tweet photographs of text that appeared to propose many of the basic features of the original deal conducted by Clancy and which the cabinet subsequently reneged upon.

But what they give with one hand they take with the other.

What has been released today is not the whole story. What we learn today is that the Council will change the name of the Grade 3 job. That sounds like a victory for bin men. But to make it a victory for Labour Councillors they have added in a whole new job role. It will not merely be a rebranding – it will involve a longer week for no more pay
as there are attempts to claw back the rest day (compressed working week) and put everyone into a five day week.

Screenshot_20171124-141319

The BBC journalist noted the reference to the words “retain a GR3 role” and the bizarre explanations emanating from the mouth of Lisa Trickett (Labour Cabinet member for bins):

Screenshot_20171124-141238

Trickett may hope the general public is as gullible as her local CLP (who just reselected her for 2018) but it was not lost on anybody that having wasted more than £6.6 million in taxpayers money the “new” proposals could hardly claim to have been “cost neutral”! The most vital thing to take from Cllr Trickett’s remarks is that this isn’t the keeping of the Grade 3 role – it is a new role. It is walking up the road with a ludicrous tablet in your hand, ticking boxes and making notes whilst trying to collect bins and not get run over.

The next step is for the bin men to discuss the proposals at tomorrow’s mass meeting. No doubt there will be questions over the following:

What happens to suspended trade union rep brother Rickett’s?

Brother Ricketts, trade union rep from Tyseley was suspended on spurious grounds at the start of the dispute, clearly in an attempt by bullying managers at that depot to undemrine the strike. Unite announced early on that his reinstatement was a red line. As it happened, Tyseley rose to the challenge of losing an experienced comrade and those who took over from brother Rickett’s represented the workers admirably. All bin men will want to know when he will be reinstated.

New WRCO job – how many extra days, how many extra hours?

The ludicrously titled Waste Reduction and Collection Officer, i.e., a bin man, is the attempt to mask over the failure of the Council to beat the bin men into submission, whilst trying to find another way of cobbling together the savings they insist they must make. No mention was made today in public of how much more work will be put onto the job, nor how many more days they will be expected to work, for the same pay. The compressed week is a target, and bin men will have even more work heaped upon them.

It is clear that having failed to take from the bin men their grade 3 wages the Council intends to take extra labour for free. Having undertook militant strike action that proved in practice the bin men can beat these Labour wretches, why should any worker accept that to retain their current pay they must accept a increase in their working day, epecially when they already undertake an incredibly taxing job?

Victory to the Birmingham bin men.

 

 

Join us at Councillor Trickett’s surgery this Thursday 6pm (cpgb-ml)

wp-image-1285495501

Local residents outside Lisa Trickett’s surgery in September

The Birmingham bin strike is far from over. The ballot of industrial action is valid from Monday, although bin men won’t be taking strike action as they are relying on the Union lawyers and officials to come to some sort of agreement with the Council else see the matter settled in their favour in the Courts.

Reliance on the bourgeois courts is the favoured tactic of most trade union negotiators these days when settlement through agencies like ACAS isn’t possible. Having seen the tangible value of an ACAS agreement in August, and the back-stabbing antics of the Labour Party, the CPGB-ML is of the opinion that the real strength of the workers lies in industrial action and political pressure exerted against the Labour party. Closing your eyes and wishing that your cheating, lieing, underhand partner is going to change their ways is wishful thinking. The reality of the trade union – Labour party “relationship” has tragic consequences for the workers who fail to ascertain that endless pleading with Labour to “see sense” gets you nowhere – bullies only understand strength and there’s no choice but to fight them.

Join CPGB-ML outside the surgery of Councillor Trickett

Thursday 12th October 6.00 – 7.00pm

Moseley Exchange, Moseley Community Development Trust, The Post Office Building, 149 – 153 Alcester Road, Moseley, Birmingham, B13 8JP

Leave your details here for updates and more information:

Demand a vote on any deal & target Labour party councillors

The coming days and weeks in the Birmingham bin strike will be crucial for the bin men. Tonight (Tuesday 19 September), the Party Committee of Birmingham CPGB-ML discussed the likely outcome of the High Court ruling in London and the success of both last Thursday’s Trickett picket and the Sunday rally.

High Court

Firstly we fully expect the High Court to cobble together a decision that will enable both Unite and the Council to claim some sort of victory. As with the fiasco of the ACAS deal, it is only right and proper that the workers vote on whether to accept such a deal and return to work. The decision cannot be made on their behalf by officials and stewards alone. Furthermore, any deal that delays the demands of the workers should be challenged until the Grade 3s are given a cast iron guarantee that their job is protected.

It is the job of social democracy to ensure that the anger of the mistreated working classes is dissipated. They do this by announcing public inquiries and commissions as in Grenfell and in the case of industrial disputes, they use ACAS and the Courts to get men back to work on promises alone. This has happened once before in this dispute. If the men are offered a promise, or if the men are offered a temporary concession or deal, perhaps even a pause in hostilities, they must push on for total victory. Don’t clean the streets up only to have to come out again! Each delay only gives the Council more time to prepare their attack and undermine the strike.

Labour

Secondly our Party believes a campaign targeting Labour councillors and members at Ward meetings and constituency party meetings will pressure the local Labour Party to think again and encourage the welcome process already begun of internal Labour party back-stabbing whereby Momentum and others are emboldened to attack and remove incumbent councillors. Dissention in the enemy’s ranks is to be welcomed. Our party notes with amusement the beginnings of the great purge in local CLP’s and offers the following advice to the butchers,

“Today you amputate one limb, tomorrow another, the day after tomorrow a third – what will we have left in the Party” (J V Stalin 1924).
Victory to the bin workers!

Photographers images from bin workers demo

Communist and photographer Stalingrad took these great photos at Sunday’s rally in support of Birmingham bin men, enjoy!

Five myths about Manzie and Labour

Myth 1 – Manzie uses magic powers to make all the poor Labour councillors do her bidding, including poor old John Clancy

Truth – Manzie was appointed by the Labour party. Clancy and the rest, including the Tories love her. Her views coincide with theirs. All their views are the same because they are all capitalists, none of them are socialists. In fact, Manzie was appointed precisely because she is such a wretched slave to the interests of capitalism.

Myth 2 – Manzie gets £180,000pa

Truth – she does, it was a salary agreed by her bosses in the Labour Party when they appointed her. They also take neat little sums as Councillors.

Myth 3 – Manzie is a Tory

Truth – who knows and who cares? Labour or Tory its the same old story. She was appointed by Labour with Tory support, her salary was agreed by the Labour Cabinet, and presumably her politics and reputation preceeded her, thats why they appointed her and not a bin man. So – they knew she was a disgrace and they appointed her for that very reason, they haven’t been tricked or bullied!

Myth 4 – “if it sounds like a Tory, talks like a Tory and is a Labour party member, it’s a Tory” video here

Truth – nope, it’s a Labour party member. Let’s stop making excuses for Labour class traitors by calling them Tories. They’re Labour, the same party which didn’t overturn any anti-union legislation between 1997-2010, gased 4 million Korean workers whilst it bribed British workers with the NHS in 1948 (which it then began privatising in 1998!), betrayed the Miners Strike in 1984 and abandoned the fig leaf of Clause 4 & common ownership in 1995. The list could go on….

Myth 5 – the Labour party is a socialist organisation

Truth – The Labour party doesn’t set itself the goal of socialism. The Labour party aims to manage capitalism, to put a nice face on it. When workers make a fuss, all the top brass start going on about socialism again. The mention of socialism in Clause 4 of the Labour party constitution was put in by Tony Blair in the 90’s. Tony had total power to do what the hell he wanted for ten years, we didn’t advance one inch towards socialism, but Tony did manage to murder a few million and make himself a few more million from all the slaughter.

We need to strive for socialism, and for that, we need a Communist Party. The CPGB-ML is that party.

 

The reason John McDonnell has finally spoken in support of the Birmingham bin strike is because he has been forced to support the bin men.

The Birmingham Mail yesterday quoted McDonnell as saying:

“I do not see your strike as strike against Labour. I see your strike as a strike against austerity. Simple as that.

“Our advice to Labour councillors wherever, when they go into dispute, is to get round the table.

“And insist on the fact that it isn’t chief executives or officers of the council that determine the future of a council’s policies, but the councillors themselves.

“So we want negotiations to resolve this dispute immediately.

“Solidarity!”

Our view

We agree that this strike has been a strike against austerity, but it’s LABOUR PARTY austerity. Whilst the Tories may be in government, it is the Labour party locally who have chosen to attack the bin men, as well as implement cuts which have reduced a city council workforce of 20,000 to half that number.

The reason John McDonnell has finally spoken in support of the Birmingham bin strike is because he has been forced to support the bin men. If he was an ardent supporter would it have taken nine weeks?

It is clear that this new and very welcome support is due to the heroic industrial action undertaken since June. The local Labour Council have failed to impose the cuts which they believed in their arrogance would go through with very little disruption, the Labour chief of the Council has fallen on his sword and McDonnell is being forced to the microphone. The fact that the pressure has mounted to this level is proof, were any needed, that the bin men are winning.