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From The Socialist newspaper, 9 August 2017

Angry Birmingham bin workers enter fifth week of strike action

West Midlands FBU chair and Socialist Party member Dave Pitt (right) gives firefighters' solidarity to striking Birmingham bin workers, August 2017

West Midlands FBU chair and Socialist Party member Dave Pitt (right) gives firefighters' solidarity to striking Birmingham bin workers, August 2017   (Click to enlarge)

Clive Walder, Birmingham Central 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.

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.

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.

Birmingham bin workers, August 2017, photo Mark Andrews

Birmingham bin workers, August 2017, photo Mark Andrews   (Click to enlarge)

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.


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.

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.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 9 August 2017:

What we think

Venezuela shows battle Corbyn would face

Socialist Party news and analysis

Striking back against poverty pay

Rashan Charles death: End police racism and austerity

Coventry: march following racist police killing

Government's tribunal fees defeat

40% of England's psychiatric wards are 'unsafe'

Marx's Capital at 150

Marx's Capital at 150: an unequalled analysis

Socialist Party workplace news

Angry Birmingham bin workers enter fifth week of strike action

Barts strike: Keep up the pressure on Serco and the trust!

Steel workers at Rom Ltd strike for a pay rise

Coordinated action needed to break pay restraint

End poverty pay for sleep-in care workers

RMT condemns Welsh government rail privatisation

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Young, angry and fighting back

Young Socialists off to a flying start in Cardiff

Campaign fights closure of Chatsworth rehab ward

Support for Socialist Party campaigns at biggest ever Leeds Pride

Northern Pride's a success

Housing safety campaign kicks off in Coventry

Far-right thrown out of Newcastle

Postie paper sale

International socialist news and analysis

Venezuela: Capitalist offensive sharpens after assembly elections

Workers' struggles in Peru: eyewitness report

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

How much reserves have councils got?

Global finance

Global finance: Are those storm clouds ahead?

Music review

Crunchy guitar and poignant dialogue in alt-rock homage to south Wales miners


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