Birmingham & Black Country

Birmingham bin row: Fortnightly rubbish collections introduced

Full bins
Image caption Residents complained about rubbish not being collected for three weeks

Fortnightly rubbish collections will start temporarily in Birmingham, as the council says it will consider going to court over ongoing industrial action.

Around 300 Unite the Union workers have been working to rule since December 29, over a payment given to GMB members, who did not strike in 2017.

The authority said it would ask for a court injunction if union talks fail.

But Unite said it would escalate to full strike action if the council did not reverse the threat.

Following the announcement over court action, councillor Majid Mahmood - who had been in charge of rubbish collection in the city - resigned from the council's cabinet.

The Labour-run city council approved a move to seek the injunction against the union if it refused a formal offer to resolve the dispute through the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas).

Council leader Ian Ward described the industrial action as "unlawful".

Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said it had been due to discuss an offer with the council on Wednesday at Acas, before the announcement was made.

He said: "If not resolved, the people of Birmingham will not forgive the council for this dispute."

Image caption Thousands of tonnes of waste were left on Birmingham's streets in 2017, the last time bin workers took industrial action

Unison, representing around 25 members, said it wanted to avoid starting industrial action on 25 January, also over the GMB payments.

It said it was looking forward to an invitation to talks with the council at Acas.

Other measures approved by the council include an extension to opening times at council tips.

Average calls to the council call centres about missed collections rose from 214 a day to 1, 030, since Unite started industrial action, said the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS).

Mr Mahmood, former cabinet member for clean streets, waste and recycling, tweeted he was unwilling to support the measures.

He said: "I will not be a party to using Tory legislation to attack our trade union comrades.

"This goes against the very fabric of my socialist principles. I was elected by citizens on a Labour platform of equality, justice and fairness #solidarity."

Mr Ward added: "Our focus now is to test our legal advice and seek a resolution to this dispute through binding arbitration at Acas."

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