Talks Aimed At Heading Off Strikes By Birmingham Refuse Collectors 'collapse'

12 February 2019, 16:08 | Updated: 12 February 2019, 16:13

rubbish bags

Talks aimed at averting strikes by refuse collectors have "collapsed" within minutes of starting.

Leaders of the Unite union met with Birmingham City Council officers under the chairmanship of the conciliation service Acas to try to prevent industrial action next week.

Members of Unite have been banning overtime and working to rule since the end of December, after the union said workers who did not take part in strikes in 2017 had been given extra payments by the authority.

The union announced that its 350 members involved in the dispute will strike for two days a week from February 19.

Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: "Unite attended talks at Acas today in good faith only to discover that the terms of settlement proposed now by Birmingham council are worse than the unacceptable terms previously on offer.

"Under those circumstances the talks collapsed immediately, and given the attitude of the council there is little prospect of further talks taking place in the near future.

"It is clear that Birmingham council has one agenda which is to provoke strike action, which will cause misery for the city's residents.

"Judging by its actions today, it is clear that the council officers' agenda is not to resolve this dispute but instead to challenge Unite's collective organisation in Birmingham.

"The people of Birmingham should blame the council for the inevitable escalation of industrial action."

The council has insisted payments to workers were as a result of a failure to consult during the negotiations that ended the 2017 dispute, adding: "They were not payments for working during the industrial action."