Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

Posted on 17 August 2017 at 10:14 GMT

Birmingham bin workers - fighting back wins!

Victory for standing together and union organisation - but issues remain to be resolved

Socialist Party and PCS union activist Bill Murray presented a strike fund donation from the Socialist Party meeting to bin workers' rep Richard on the picket line at Tyseley today.   Very soon afterwards news reached the strikers that the action was susp

Socialist Party and PCS union activist Bill Murray presented a strike fund donation from the Socialist Party meeting to bin workers' rep Richard on the picket line at Tyseley today. Very soon afterwards news reached the strikers that the action was susp   (Click to enlarge)

Birmingham Socialist Party members

Following magnificent seven weeks of action by Brum's bin workers - members of Unite the Union - with high turnouts at picket lines, the increasingly determined workforce has forced a management retreat.

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. A suspended union rep has also been reinstated.

Scandalously, the Labour council tried to make bin workers pay for the council's own 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's Labour. They even lied by claiming they had gone to conciliation service Acas when in fact it was the union pushing for that for weeks.

The public's refusal to turn on the bin workers surprised the council and media. 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. Over 60 new members in waste have been recruited to Unite during the dispute.

Other issues

Some issues, like work patterns, are yet to be hammered out.One 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.

We must seek to get all agency workers, many who supported the strike, on permanent contracts. One said: "I'm on the agency contract, we get 8.50 an hour. The public think we get great money. Its hard work out in the rain and cold, I'd like to see the councillors do a shift."

Birmingham council claimed they wanted to "modernise the service in line with best national practice". That meant moving from a four to a five day service in Birmingham. Funny, they're modernising the Doncaster service from five to four day working!

It's any old excuse as the same old failed managers and same old failed policies are recirculated around the country. But there's one common factor - the workers pay for it with fewer jobs, low pay and more sweated hours.


Birmingham council has attacked workers, blamed them, used scabs and bullying. They can't be trusted - they could be back for more. The Labour Party here isn't fit for purpose and must be changed. One lad spoke for many: "I'm Labour, I've voted Labour all my life, but never again, not after this." The Blairites must go.

South East Birmingham Socialist Party members took 100 that was collected at their recent public meeting to the Tyseley picket line. Presenting it, Bill Murray 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 five, working in all weather, but it's the team, they're such great lads." The bin workers are, and they deserve what looks like a victory. They have struck a blow for all workers in this city. 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 Birmingham.

As negotiations continue, the workers' watchword will be "vigilance".

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 17 August 2017 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

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

Related links:


triangleBirmingham Central Socialist Party: France in May 1968

triangleBirmingham Central Socialist Party: Japan - Stagnation and Military Tensions

triangleSeeing-off the bigoted, billionaire toff!

triangleContinuing the fighting tradition of working class women

triangleBirmingham Socialist Party: International Women's Day


triangle15 years since the invasion of Iraq: what we said

triangleSocialist Party congress 2018

triangleSainsbury's raise really a cut: fight for 10 with no strings!

triangleWorkplace news in brief

Bin workers:

triangleFCC Environment strike solid

triangleKirklees bin workers ballot for strike over schedule and bullying

triangleBirmingham bin workers win!


trianglePassing the council cuts test

triangleHated Blairite mayor ousted: now fight for a no-cuts Newham!


triangleJeremy Corbyn and Brexit


triangleLeicester: Blairites block Labour Party democracy


triangleMary Jackson: funeral and memorial meeting


triangleMay's "war on plastic" still puts profits before the planet

Labour Party:

triangleMay's EU speech kicks the can down the road

Agency workers:

triangleStreet cleaners support the Birmingham bin strike


triangleRussia, spies and nerve agents

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns



Hands Off HRI campaign granted judicial review



Refugee Rights to be launched in Manchester



Over 1,000 on Newcastle NHS march


Socialist Party

Why I joined: 'The Socialist Party is at the forefront of defending Corbyn's anti-austerity leadership'


Socialist Party

Past fund-raising campaigns show dedication to the fight for socialism


May Day

Ideas matter: help us fight to win with May Day greetings



Refugees march against racism and to demand rights



Unions condemn 'culture of bullying' at Merseyside hospital



Hull college workers ballot for action against mass redundancies



Strikers and parents rally again in Newham against academies



Hinkley workers win back unpaid wages after sit-in protest



UCU strike: staff and students unite to continue pensions fight after magnificent 14 days of action



Walkout from undercover policing inquiry



Hated Blairite mayor ousted: now fight for a no-cuts Newham!



NSSN conference moves

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0191 421 6230

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551



Alphabetical listing

March 2018

February 2018

January 2018