Industrial dispute facts

By on 06/01/2011 in News, Rebuttals

With further union talks planned today, Birmingham City Council has moved to clarify a number of issues relating to ongoing industrial action.

And Cllr Alan Rudge, Cabinet Member for Equalities and Human Resources, has stressed the council had no option but to review the pay and conditions of around 450 Fleet and Waste staff.

As he prepared to meet senior union officials this evening ahead of scheduled talks later today, Cllr Rudge said: “While we are keen to find a solution as quickly as possible, it must be made absolutely clear that the pay and conditions of a small group of fleet and waste management staff did not meet equality laws and therefore had to be revised. Doing nothing or leaving the existing structure in place was not an option.” See information below for further background information.

In the meantime, scheduled collections have resumed and Cllr Rudge added: “Although we are still in a work to rule situation, the contract of employment states crews work on a task to finish basis. Under these circumstances they have sufficient time to complete scheduled collections.

“This means 80 crews have sufficient time to make scheduled collections from 85,000 households each day. In the meantime, our casual workforce will continue to tackle the backlog and we would urge residents to only put out new bags on their scheduled date for collection.”

With further talks with trades unions planned, he concluded: “Our senior management team will be attending tomorrow's meeting and I hope the unions will also participate.

“Our door remains open to the trades unions and we would call on them to return to talks and end/avoid the disruption being caused to members of the public.”

Background to industrial action

  • The dispute relates to a legal issue arising from the city council’s implementation of equal pay legislation.
  • In June 2009 a tribunal Pre-Hearing Review ruled that the current pay and conditions of a small group of fleet and waste management staff may not meet equality laws and therefore should be revised.
  • Doing nothing or leaving the current structure in place was not an option.
  • The vast majority of 20,000+ staff affected by Pay and Grading have all signed their new contracts or settled any outstanding issues which arose.
  • The case of these FWM staff is a very limited exception to the rule which, taking on board the tribunal's findings, we are working with our legal and equalities advisors to address.

Comparing the Christmas/New Year period 2010/11 to that of 2009/10:

  • 2009/10
    Regular crews worked the Bank Holidays.
  • 2010/11
    Regular crews did not work the Bank Holidays and casual staff made up 20 per cent of the regular workforce.
  • Prolonged spell of severe weather that disrupted scheduled collections in the build-up to Christmas.

Despite the shortfall in workforce and the severe weather we have collected 85 per cent of the volume collected over the same period last year.

Who will be delivering services/agency and casual staff?
The council has developed contingency plans so that in addition to permanent staff, there are a number of agency and casual staff who we are able to call upon to assist the council to fulfil its statutory obligations under public health legislation.

How does pay in Birmingham compare to neighbouring areas.
Under the new pay structure, refuse collection Loaders working for Birmingham City Council will receive a basic salary of just under £20,000, and Drivers over £26,000. This compares favourably with neighbouring local authorities, for example Wolverhampton (Loader – £17,000 and Driver – £20,000) and Walsall (Loader – just under £20,000 and Driver – £22,000).

Are we still talking to unions?
Our door remains open to the trades unions and we would call on them to return to talks and end/avoid the disruption being caused to members of the public.

Will striking workers get paid overtime to 'catch up' work as in previous strikes?
No, it is not Birmingham City Council's intention to pay overtime to any staff for work they should have carried out as part of their normal duties.

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  1. Paul Shenton says:

    In the meantime, scheduled collections have resumed and Cllr Rudge added: “Although we are still in a work to rule situation, the contract of employment states crews work on a task to finish basis. Under these circumstances they have sufficient time to complete scheduled collections
    If the above quote is correct then they must be breaking their contract of employment as my bags were not collected on wednesday (scheduled day of collection).Into 5th week of no collection street is starting to smell.

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