Refuse collection workers in Birmingham have voted strongly in favour of extending strike action for a further three months.
Unite’s ballot concluded on 18 September, with 92.4% in favour of continuing strike action. This is a slight increase on the 90% in favour when strikes first began on 30 June.
The current strike ballot expires on 21st September and 14 days notice to employers is required from their union Unite before a new strike can start, so there will be a 10 day period where strikers have to go back to work.
The city of Birmingham now faces the prospect of waste filled streets throughout the Christmas peiod.
Leading up to the strike, the council made clear its intention to reorganise how waste is to be collected, under a pretence of efficiency.
Each refuse collection vehicle has a three-person crew; a driver and two at the back, one of whom is responsible for safety. The Labour controlled Birmingham city council intends to downgrade the worker responsible for safety and place the entire responsibility for both the front and rear end of the vehicle onto the driver.
Any workers unfortunate enough to be downgraded will face a pay cut of up to £5,000 from a wage as little as £21,000-a-year. As recent months have shown, councils willing to sacrifice safety for the sake of costs is one of the major stories emerging in the aftermath of the Grenfell tower tragedy.
After ten weeks of uncollected piles of waste (mostly in poorer wards), the council has done very little but escalate their assault against waste and refuse workers. This includes: serving over 100 workers with redundancy notices; opening 31 disciplinary investigations against refuse collectors and; the suspension of and disciplinary action against a shop steward.
In addition, the council managed to suspend the strike by offering a deal they had no intention of upholding. This ultimately led to the resignation of council leader John Clancy and the extension of strike action.
Our coverage so far:
All out! Birmingham bin strike back on - 1st September
Union claims victory as Birmingham bins strike suspended - 16th August
An appeal to Bearded Broz: the Birmingham bin strike - 12th September