On Wednesday (16 August), the conciliation service Acas announced the bin strike had been suspended and Birmingham City Council were in negotiations to bring the seven-week dispute to an end. Here is Cllr Mary Locke’s response to the news.
Positive news on negotiations
Negotiations are still underway but Birmingham City Council has agreed in principle that there are no redundancy steps in place. Parties will look to discuss through Acas how the service can be improved and savings can be made.
Unite the Union have agreed in principle to recommend to their members changes to their work pattern, including consideration of a 5 day working week (workers currently work a 4 day week).Both parties agree the working week should be designed to maximise service delivery.
These discussions will be with the intention of incorporating any agreement as an amendment to the Waste Management Service Cabinet Report in September 17.
I was sure that when ACAS was invited that both sides could get round the table to discuss differences and come up with a workable solution.
The cuts agenda
While I share residents’ relief that the bin strike has been suspended, it is important we don’t lose sight of the bigger picture that contributed to the dispute in the first place: the Tory government’s austerity programmes.
Since 2010, Birmingham City Council has had to make tremendous cuts, including cuts to Adult Social Care, Schools and other vital public services. Seven years of cuts means even basic services such as rubbish collections are under strain.
We need to invest in high quality public services
Birmingham City Council has had to impose harsh cuts because of major reductions in the funding it receives from Tory-run central government. Worse still, major cities like Birmingham have been harder hit than better off parts of the country, which means the cuts are disproportionately affecting the poor and ordinary working people.
The bin strike is just the latest example of the impact of Tory cuts in our city. The human cost of the cuts can be seen in the runaway demand for emergency food supplies, which B30 Foodbank is struggling to keep up with.
As well as resolving the bin dispute, we need to keep making the case for high quality, well-funded public services that are responsive to local people’s needs. I will continue to do this by campaigning for a Labour government in Westminster well as a Labour council in Birmingham council. Please get in touch if you’d like to get involved in making this happen.