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Refuse workers strike against bullying bosses
Clive Walder, Birmingham Central Socialist Party
Birmingham council refuse workers represented by Unite have voted to strike on 30 June followed by a series of two-hour stoppages commencing at 6am on 3, 11, 19 and 27 July and 4 August over a bullying culture among management and a threat to make 122 workers (20% of the workforce) redundant.
There will also be an overtime ban with workers adhering to their contracted hours, plus returning to depots for all lunch and tea breaks, also starting on 30 June.
The Labour council claims that this is necessary due to budget cuts - it is expected that the overspend will be £11.9 million as opposed to the £9.7 million originally predicted. The workers think that the bullying from management is designed to force workers to resign without redundancy pay. 90% voted to strike and 93% voted for action short of a strike.
At the same time as wanting to make these workers redundant, the council has been replacing permanent workers with agency staff. It is clear that the intention is to create a more insecure workforce.
Even before making these workers redundant it wasn't unheard of for refuse collections to not take place on the scheduled day. The union has offered to have conciliation service Acas mediate in this but has said that workers are prepared to fight on the streets, in the media, and in the courts if necessary.