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.

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

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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.

“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.

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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):

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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)

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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

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