Birmingham bin dispute 'cost council £5.8m'

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Uncollected waste in Alum Rock, Birmingham in 2017Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Workers began walkouts over "secret payments" made to non-striking GMB staff after a dispute in 2017

The latest strikes and industrial action involving Birmingham bin workers have cost the council more than £5.8m, a report says.

Workers began a series of walkouts over "secret payments" made to non-striking GMB staff after a dispute in 2017.

But Unite and Unison recently backed proposals that go before the council's cabinet on Friday, in which workers would receive payments of £3,500.

The cost of the proposed settlement is more than £1.78m.

Legal costs amounted to more than £1.45m and contingency arrangements to cover periods of industrial action and strike action more than £2.61m, the report to cabinet said.

The previous Birmingham bin workers' strike, over three months in 2017, had cost £6m, the council said in November of that year.

In the latest dispute, work-to-rule and an overtime ban began on 29 December last year and strike action on 19 February 2019, with legal proceedings taking place this year.

The cabinet has been recommended to approve the latest proposals.

Planned strikes by the two unions this week were called off, after Unite said last week a new deal had been tabled.

Image caption,
At their height, bin strikes in 2017 cost the city council £300,000 extra a week to clear the backlog of rubbish

The council report said the number of people using its tips had "continued to rise" with a 135% increase compared to the same time last year.

Inquiries to a council contact centre have also increased since the latest industrial action started, from 214 calls per day to 1,030, although this has fallen to about 600 with a contingency plan operating fully.

That plan, approved in January, included the use of external contractors.

If recommendations are accepted on Friday, plans will be put in place to clear all uncollected rubbish, including overtime for two weekends, with a system of weekly waste and fortnightly recycling collections starting on Monday.

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