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.

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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.