Bin Strike: Council humiliated in Court – Battle won, but war isn’t over – yet!

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Taken from Birmingham Socialist Party Bin Strike Bulletin No.10 

A Tyseley worker summed it up nicely. “We’ve taken the lead, but it’s only half time.”  

As Unite won their High Court victory against the illegal redundancy notices, it’s another round to the bin workers. Judge Fraser referring to chaos in the council said “Neither party (councillors or officers) comes out of this sorry saga with any credit at all.”  The public can now see even more clearly who caused this mess.

KEEP OUR POWDER DRY—BE PREPARED

The Court ruling may be a window where bosses are sacked and the council come to a just deal—and we hope for the best – or it may be a window for the courts and council to plan to attack us again.  So we must be prepared to resume the fight.    The tremendous Ballot result gives us the platform to resume the battle if it arises.

In the meantime, we should work to build support across the council workforce that we may need later. Meeting them at workplaces to explain the threat to their jobs and conditions revealed during this dispute.

This has been another setback for the council in what’s been a long attritional war. A war bin workers have proved they have the stomach for. As one lad said, we should ALL be proud of ourselves.

THERE ARE OTHER FRONTS TO FIGHT ON

But the council have not declared an end to their war on jobs and services and will be egged on by the Tory government. Unite and the Trade Union & socialist movement must continue our war against attacks on working people and austerity for workers while the wealthy get £millions.

As well as preparing to fight with industrial action if the council turn on us again, we should fight on other fronts as well. A fight to change the Council. Who are these so-called ‘Labour’ councillors who have been happy to wave a pen to sack workers or take £5,000 a year off them?

Next year  every council seat is up for election. Whoever wins a seat then is there for at least 4 years, with no  other elections to be able to change them.

Howard Beckett, rightly told the crowd at Sundays rally  that things were going to change in this region.

Unite should give no political support to councillors who’ve behaved in this way, and should work to change them all. If they aren’t changed then the Trade Union and Socialist movement needs to consider challenging them in next Mays elections. (The Socialist Party are certainly discussing that option)

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Crushing ballot result shows anger of workers and confidence in their ability to fight.An increased turnout to 72.7% delivered a 92.4% vote to extend strike action.


 

Hundreds attend Support Binworkers Rally

Several hundred supporters, with a large contingent of bin workers, assembled on 17 September outside the very building in Birmingham where the decision to issue 113 redundancy notices and deprive some workers of up to £5,000 a year was made by the Labour council.

The rally was followed by the announcement that the bin workers have voted overwhelmingly to continue the strike with a 92% vote on a 72% turnout.

In addition to local trade unionists there were workers from Gloucestershire, Mansfield, Greenwich Unite and a delegation of Southampton bin workers.

Howard Beckett -Unite assistant general secretary, and responsible for negotiations—warned councillors that things were going to change round here. That they could not carry on acting like Tories. Unite would fight for all its members. Lee Barron, regional TUC secretary, also attacked the Labour council for issuing compulsory redundancy  notices by parodying Neil Kinnock’s attack on the socialist-led Liverpool council at the 1985 Labour Party conference.

Rob Williams, National Shop Stewards Network chair, who added that Liverpool council never actually made anyone redundant, went on to explain that this strike is important to council workers across the country and that other councils will take encouragement to attack workers conditions if the bin workers lose.

He also said: “We want Labour councillors to stand up to the Tories,   not act like them. If they do act like them, Jeremy Corbyn should immediately withdraw the Labour whip from them.”

This dispute has now assumed national importance as shown by the attendance of Len McCluskey, Unite general secretary. Len gave the support of the whole of Unite and promised that the solidarity of Unite members and others will    ensure victory and that they will not stop the action until they have won.

He warned the council that Unite has a strike fund of £36 million, so the bin workers won’t be starved back to work.

Howard Beckett, in a powerful speech stressed the need for Stella Manzie, Birmingham Council’s chief executive and architect of the attack on the bin workers, to be sacked.   He lambasted her for the fact that she was cutting workers’ pay by up to £5,000 a year while earning £180,000 a year herself.

Plus, she has previously more than doubled her salary by claiming massive expenses. He said that the attack on the bin workers isn’t where the council will end it’s war, it is the start and threatens all workers and service users across the city.

The rally was a great way of bringing the supporters and bin workers together but wider action involving other council workers allied with solidarity from the whole Birmingham working class may be necessary for a successful conclusion.

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OUTSIDE THE HIGH COURT    –  

Howard Beckett said: “The High Court ruling leaves Birmingham council’s unfair and unjust plans in tatters. The    council needs to reflect ….on the misery it has inflicted on the people of Birmingham and its own bin workers.

“At no stage did the council raise in court the issue of equal pay and potential costs. This scaremongering has been     outed by the court proceedings as a work of pure fiction.

“Stella Manzie, the chief executive of Birmingham city council, must now step down. She has repeatedly used the threat of equal pay cases to frighten and bully the council into agreeing the downgrade of long serving bin workers when it has no substance whatsoever and was not so much as mentioned by her legal team.

“This ruling underlines that Unite will not shrink away from using all the tools at its disposal to defend its members and the services they deliver.”


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It is believed that it emerged in Court that in exchanges during the chaos     between Stella Manzies and councillors, Manzies said ‘the council could not look weak’ and “as if it’s being walked over”.

So it’s about their ego’s and never mind the impact on bin workers and the Birmingham community….…..


 

Reports above from members of Birmingham Socialist Party talking with bin workers.  Check out our website for more reports and to find out more about the Socialist Party,  join us or come along to one of our weekly meetings

For more reports, info or to join the socialists

phone/text  07941 003037     brum.sp@hotmail.co.uk    birminghamsocialistparty.wordpress.com     http://www.socialistparty.org.uk

Weekly meetings on Monday (Wellington pub, Bennett’s Hill, 7.30pm) and Tuesday (Inn on the Green, Acocks Green 7.30)

 

 

 

 

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Brum Bin Workers force Council Leader John Clancy to resign!

Mobilise like never before!

  • To keep grade 3s!

  • To defeat & kickout Manzie and the backstabbing Labour Cabinet

Bin Workers and working class people across Birmingham will be celebrating the resignation of Labour Council leader John Clancy this evening.

John Clancy lied that he never made a deal with Unite!

Fighting and striking back gets results!

But the attacks on grade 3s, jobs and services still remain. Unelected chief executive—Stella Manzie who ignored the ACAS agreement and sent out the redundancy notices and Labour Councillor Lisa Trickett and the Labour Council Cabinet remain in place and hold the same responsibility and blame for the current attacks, lies and backstabbing as Clancy.

They can be defeated though!

Bin workers should be even more confident they can win this fight. A mobilisation like never before to continue to step up the action and build for the demonstration outside the council house at 11am this Sunday, 17th September can help further hammer the nail into this weak and divided council and defeat once and for all their attacks on the grade 3s and jobs and services in Birmingham

Organise for victory!

Bin Strikes: Clancy, Trickett and Manzie Must Go!

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Socialist Party members out putting the case for support of the bin workers in Kings Heath

Labour Councillors John Clancy and Lisa Trickett and Chief exec Stella Manzie must resign given their disgraceful role in the dispute and their lies to the Brum public.

In refusing to even meet to discuss the ACAS/UNITE/Clancy agreement at Cabinet the Blairite Labour Council has shown it’s not interested in resolving the dispute through talks. Instead, they have signalled their intention to smash union organisation in the Council.

This latest act comes after Cllr Trickett has publicly stated that the bin workers were ‘holding the city to ransom’. How dare the council claim there’s not the money to settle the dispute – the council spent £40k a day on an army of untrained ‘Scab Labour’, adding up to £2 million so far spent to break the strike!

If that wasn’t bad enough, Council leader John Clancy spent Thursday and Friday denying that a deal to keep the jobs of Grade 3 bin workers had even been struck. Then, over the weekend, a statement from ACAS revealed that just such a deal had been agreed by both parties! The contempt shown by this dishonest approach for both the workforce and the residents of Birmingham is just staggering.

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John Clancy, wearing the face of a guilty man!

Some will no doubt say that the actions of the Council were ‘predictable’. However, it was correct that the union gave an opportunity for talks to succeed. As the council has refused to take that opportunity now is the time to return to industrial action and mobilise the energy, solidarity and tactics that proved successful in forcing the employer to the table and gaining the support of the Birmingham public.

It now has come out that, along with others, Hall Green Labour Councillor Barry Bowles is calling for Clancy to step down. Not because of his lying about the existence of an agreement, or his part in dragging the dispute out…but for not being “tough” enough when it comes to trying to break the union!

Just last week after the u-turn on the deal was announced, the same Cllr Bowles said “We need to follow the advice of the council’s officers, who we pay a lot of money to…even if it puts the strike back on”

If councillors like Bowles are only going to do whatever the unelected officers tell them to do, what is the point of them standing in the first place?

If Labour councillors won’t stand up for us, we need to be prepared to run candidates against them that will take the fight to the Tories and their cuts!

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Seething at the council bosses, but still smiling, down at Montague Street

Bin Strike – Round Two Begins

The 1st of September saw Birmingham’s bin workers out on strike again, after council chief exec Stella Manzie went over the heads of elected councillors and scrapped the previously agreed deal to keep Grade 3 jobs.

 

Many workers at Perry Barr saw the Council’s decision to issue redundancy notices before the planned Cabinet meeting that day had even taken place as a declaration of all out war by Council bosses on their workforce. One worker commented: “this isn’t about saving money, this is a politically fuelled attack, and the bosses are determined to do whatever it takes to break us”

Perry Barr picket line shows support for McDonald’s strike this Monday

Meanwhile at Digbeth, pickets made no bones about this looking like being a struggle to the end, and a must win one. As one said: “it’s obvious what they’re (BCC bosses) are trying to do – get rid of the Grade 3 loaders, so that they can come back and knock the drivers down to that pay band later. And then if they force that on us, what’s to stop them trying on similar stuff with other parts of the workforce?”

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Catching some rays on the Costa Del Digbeth

In any case, it looks like Birmingham residents are seeing through the Council’s recklessness in dragging out this dispute and going back on it’s promises – at least if the increased number of beeping horns outside Tyseley is anything to go by. What’s vital is that the union steps up the publicity campaign to explain to the public what’s at stake here for workers and the public, both through the media, online, and hopefully with the holding of public rallies/protests.

Bin strike back on – Victory to the Brum bin workers!

Birmingham Bin Workers will resume industrial action on Friday 1st September at 7am. The resumption of action comes about due to Birmingham City Council Chief Executive, Stella Manzie, pre-empting a debate due to take place at a Cabinet meeting on a deal brokered by UNITE, Acas and John Clancy, Labour Leader which secured 113 Grade 3 post responsible for Health and Safety in the loading process, and proceeded to issue Redundancy Notices.

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The action was suspended to allow exploratory talks to continue but will now resume in response to Manzie’s actions.

In the week leading to the postponed Cabinet meeting, rumours were circulating that suggested that the Labour members on the Cabinet could refuse to back their Leader as the Officers of the Council had prepared a report informing that the ‘deal’ could not be afforded without bankrupting the Council.

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The Bin Workers, members of UNITE, having already taken 7 weeks of industrial action involving 3×1 hour stoppages each day, are fully prepared for a return to action and are determined to force this rotten Labour Council, who have spent in excess of £2 million employing scab labour to undermine the official action, into a retreat.

Birmingham Socialist Party gives its full support and solidarity to the Birmingham Bin Workers!


See our previous posts on this website for our reports of the strike over the last few months  or to find out more about the Socialist Party or join us:  Contact – brum.sp@hotmail.co.uk, call or text 07941 003037   or go to birminghamsocialistparty.wordpress.com

 

Birmingham Bin workers – Fighting back wins!

BIRMINGHAM BIN WORKERS – FIGHTING BACK WINS!

VICTORY FOR STANDING TOGETHER AND UNION ORGANISATION  –  But issues remain to be resolved

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Following magnificent action by Brum’s bin workers with high turnouts at picket lines, the increasingly determined workforce has forced a management retreat. It was the strength and determination, organisation and unity with effective flexible tactics that forced a ‘hard-nosed’ employer to the table.

The strike has been suspended pending talks around other issues after the Council gave up their attack on Grade 3 workers. It represents a defeat for bosses and also included that a suspended union rep was re-instated.

Scandalously, the Council tried to make bin-workers pay for gross mismanagement over the years and attacked, intimidated, lied about and tried to turn the public against them.

Little wonder most bin workers don’t trust the Councillors -who were backed up by the TV and press. Councillors used the language of Thatcher to claim bin workers were ‘holding our city to ransom’. But who was holding who to ransom? The council demanding a 25% pay cut or lose your job, that’s who!

They spent over £2million trying to organise a scab army to break the workers dispute when it would have only cost £330,000 to settle the grade 3 issue.

They implied “other services” were being put at risk by the strike. Yet the only threat to services in Birmingham is the council that is voting to cut them!

Clearly they are New Labour not Corbyn Labour. 

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PUBLIC SUPPORT

The failure of the public to turn on bin workers surprised the council and media. But most Birmingham people now have direct experience of the constant attacks, cuts and speed ups that modern management use.  So their sympathy was with the bin workers. They too, have had enough.

A Union that fights for its members wins support: Unite members were left alone to fight this dispute when UNISON and GMB failed to join the dispute. UNITE will come out of this event stronger in terms of experience and with over 60 new members recruited.

 

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Issues still remain to be resolved  …..

Clearly, all the issues of work patterns and other management demands are yet to be hammered out, and bin workers will all have an eye on that. But other issues also arise.

Bullying and intimidating managers – A Lifford Lane worker said that their priority in any negotiations were to get rid of a manager who bullied a street cleaner wagon driver in front of the pickets, to keep the Grade 3 jobs and stop the £4,000 to £5,000 a year pay cut.

Agency workers – many of whom supported the strike. We must seek to get all agency workers on permanent contracts. One said “I’m on the agency we get £8.50/hour. The public think we get great money. It’s hard work out in the rain and cold, I’d like to see the councillors do a shift.”

The council They attacked workers, blamed them, used scabs and bullying. They can’t be trusted.  If they can say the things they did, they might be back for more.

And Labour….The Labour Party here isn’t fit for purpose and must be changed. Not one single Labour MP or Councillor publicly spoke in favour of the union member’s struggle. Only at the end, did Jack Dromey, Labour MP for Erdington, having told the union to ‘compromise’ early on, appear on local TV to demand the ‘two sides’ stick to the agreement in the best interest of the people of Birmingham. He totally ignores the anti-trade union tactics of this Labour-controlled Council.

One lad spoke for many “I’m Labour, I’ve voted Labour all my life, but never again, not after this.” The Blue Labour Blairites must go.

 


 

South East B’ham Socialist Party members took £100 collected at their recent public meeting to Tyseley picket line. Bill Murray presenting it said “Bin workers have drawn a line in the sand that enough is enough. No more attacks on workers to make them pay for a problem they have not created.”

A clear warning has been sent to government, councils and profiteers who demand ever more cuts to jobs and pay to bail out bankers – expecting workers to live on ‘chocolate buttons’ – we’ve had enough.

A bin worker said, “I know this sounds mad but I love my job, I’ve been here 16 years. Don’t get me wrong I don’t enjoy getting up at 5, working in all weathers, but it’s the team, they’re such great lads.”

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The bin workers are, and they deserve what looks like a victory. They have struck a blow for all workers in this city. Because be sure, what bosses wanted to enforce on them, they would have tried to enforce across the council and ultimately it would had an effect on all employment in Brum.

As negotiations continue, the workers watchword will be “Vigilance”.

Local Government in crisis – Austerity means Local Authority budgets across the country are being subjected to massive cuts. Not one single council has resisted and defended services but instead are cutting budgets and attacking their employees’ terms and conditions. Due to this, the next dispute will not be too far away. Lessons learned in this dispute must be applied to the next action.

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Socialist Party: proud to have supported bin workers.

Socialist Party members fully supported this dispute with initiatives and ideas. We were able to call upon members in trade unions across the country to arrange donations and picket line visits. We provided contact details for the impending binworkers strike action in Doncaster.

Next Socialist Party meeting to discuss the dispute:

Monday 21 August. 7.30 Upstairs Room, Wellington Pub, Bennetts Hill, City centre.  Bin workers welcome

Reports above from members of Birmingham Socialist Party. More on our website or to find out more about the Socialist Party or join us:  Contact – brum.sp@hotmail.co.uk, call or text 07941 003037   or go to birminghamsocialistparty.wordpress.com

 

Angry bin workers enter fifth week of strike action

 

Clive Walder, Birmingham Socialist Party

Birmingham bin workers, members of Unite the Union, feel angry that the Labour council has forced them into a fifth week of industrial action to defend jobs, pay and the safety-critical member of the bin wagon crew.

But as their action bites they feel determined to stick it out until victory. They want to get back to collecting Birmingham‘s rubbish but not on the council’s shoddy terms. Workers are furious with council financial mismanagement of the service.

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Pickets at Digbeth Depot

Solidarity action must be stepped up. The Socialist Party believes that all local government unions should hold workplace meetings to explain the dispute and the wider consequences should the bin workers be defeated. This can be followed up with bucket collections on the next payday.

In Small Heath, a community group have started their own rubbish collections. It’s unlikely a small group of volunteers could make a difference to the level of uncollected rubbish but it is significant that the council has taken no action. They may think it undermines the strike, but workers are concerned that these volunteers have not been trained to collect rubbish or meet health and safety standards.

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Placards at Perry Barr

Some workers wonder whether the council is digging in for a long dispute, but the truth is that they have been put through this five week disgrace by council officers and senior councillors. Most councillors will be unaware of most of the issues, and it is time they were lobbied and had things explained to them.

It has been rumoured that some Birmingham Labour MPs have been pressuring the workers to compromise rather than demanding the council withdraw the job losses and downgrading.

A local Communication Workers Union branch passed a motion of support moved by a Socialist Party member and also agreed to write to Jeremy Corbyn asking him to remind Labour councillors that they should not attack their own workers.

Labour

Many feel that these Labour councillors should not be allowed to stand as Labour candidates at next year’s election. Labour Party members should challenge councillors who are not supporting the bin workers.

Unite has made it clear that they will back the workers financially and industrially for as long as it takes and a hardship fund is in the process of being established.

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Fire Brigades Union West Midlands Chair Dave Pitt bringing solidarity from fire fighters and a donation to the strike fund

Socialist Party members have been visiting the picket lines at all four depots regularly and are warmly welcomed by the strikers. Four bin worker bulletins have already been produced and been well received with many workers reading them on the picket line immediately.

On the ‘Support the Brum Bin Strike’ Facebook page‘ one worker is quoted: “We’ve been bending over backwards for these lot for eight years now, but you can only kick a dog for so long before it turns round and bites you. This is what’s happening right now”.

It is vital that solidarity is built as this dispute could drag on. All readers of the Socialist should pass motions of support and send donations from union branches and other organisations.

  • Please send messages of support to Howard.Beckett@unitetheunion.org and donations can be sent to Unite the Union, 9-17 Victoria Street, West Bromwich, West Midlands, B70 8HX