Birmingham’s bin strike has been suspended after the High Court granted an interim injunction against the council’s bid to make workers redundant.A trial will take place to determine if the council acted unlawfully in issuing redundancy notices.Workers have been on strike since 30 June.Union members asked the court to grant the order against the council’s bid to lose staff and change working patterns. In a statement the council said it accepted the ruling. The hearing in London on Wednesday centred on former council leader John Clancy’s actions after he reneged on a deal to keep workers’ jobs. He quit last week amid widespread criticism of his U-turn.Referring to Mr Clancy and his officers, Mr Justice Fraser said: “Neither party comes out of this sorry saga with any credit at all – I could use the words remarkable, extraordinary and more.”Conciliation service Acas said on 16 August the council had accepted the workers’ case and restored the jobs of grade three workers, who are responsible for safety at the back of refuse vehicles.But a council report said the deal struck by Unite and the council was unaffordable.The Unite union claims restructuring plans threaten the jobs of more than 120 staff, while the council says plans will modernise the service and save £5m a year.
Several refuse workers were at the hearing, one hailed the judge’s decision as “fantastic” and a “massive victory”.The judge said Mr Clancy’s “motivation was difficult to fathom”. Mr Fraser read out an email sent on 15 August from the interim chief executive Stella Manzie to ex-leader Mr Clancy saying the council could not look weak and “as if it’s being walked over”. Documents make clear there was an internal rift at the council, Mr Fraser said.A Birmingham City Council spokesperson said: “The council wants to offer the best possible refuse service for citizens and wants to work with Unite and all the other unions to do this. “We remain committed to resolving the dispute as quickly as possible and we hope Unite will support us in doing this.”Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said refuse workers would now return to a full working day. “As part of the ruling Unite will suspend its industrial action until the matter is put before a full court hearing at a later date.”The trial is likely to last five days and will be scheduled for the end of November, however Judge Fraser urged all parties to come to an agreement before the prospect of an “expensive trial”.The union is also repeating its calls for Ms Manzie, the authority’s interim chief executive, to stand down.
Bin strike timeline27 June: Cabinet approves plans to modernise collection service.
30 June: First day of strike action.
3, 11, 19 and 27 July and 4 August: Two-hour stoppages take place.18 July: Unite announces action will continue until September after talks break down with the council.28 July: Daily two-hour stoppages are increased to three hours.11 August: Action is stepped up to three-hour stoppages spaced across the shift.16 August: Strike action is suspended amid negotiations between Unite and the city council.24 August: A report to Birmingham’s cabinet warns the deal that ended the strike is unaffordable. A meeting due to be held is deferred until 1 September.31 August: The council announces it is issuing redundancy notices. Unite says the move is a “deeply provocative act” and warns workers are likely to resume strikes.1 September: Workers return to picket lines as the strike resumes. The union warns action could continue until the end of the year and says members will be balloted for further action.11 September: John Clancy resigns as city council leader following criticism of his handling of industrial action by refuse workers.20 September: High Court grants an interim injunction against the council’s bid to make workers redundant. The bin strike is suspended.
Source: BBC Black Country