Socialist Worker

‘We will not be bullied. We will win this dispute,’ says defiant Birmingham bin worker

by Paul Jackson, striking Birmingham bin worker
Issue No. 2571

Birmingham bin strikers on the picket line

Birmingham bin strikers on the picket line (Pic: Sharon Campion)


Birmingham city council sent me a letter last week saying I was being made redundant. It came like a bolt from the blue.

After our strikes against job cuts this summer we had a deal with the council leader John Clancy. We’d got the conciliation service Acas involved. We went back to work in good faith.

To get these letters now is unbelievable.

It said that if I didn’t respond by 13 September I’d be sacking myself. They’d put redundancy money in my account on 1 October and issue a P45.

The council claims there are no compulsory redundancies in its restructuring. It’s all lies.

They want to get rid of all the grade three leading hand workers. It’s a safety critical role. We help the driver reverse, watch out for pedestrians and avoid collisions.

We’ve been offered a choice. We can accept being downgraded to a grade two loader and take a big pay cut—about £4,000 in my case.

Or we can apply for grade 3 positions elsewhere in the council. But they are at an unrealistic skill level.

The so-called jobs are fixed term. And even if we’re successful in applying for them, if we lose this dispute the council will come back next year and start cutting other jobs.

Unite rep Paul Jackson (left)

Unite rep Paul Jackson (left) (Pic: Socialist Worker)


The council expects to save about £600,000 by cutting grade three bin workers. Yet it spends just under £300,000 a week on scab labour to break our dispute.

That’s £1.2 million in four weeks. It could easily afford to settle this.

But this dispute is about the council, and in particular its chief executive Stella Manzie, trying to break the union to implement their austerity cuts.

If they beat us now they’ll come back for the whole council workforce.

But they’re not going to beat us. We went straight back on strike last week, and the solidarity on the picket line has been magnificent.

I’m a working class person and I am proud of standing up with my colleagues in this dispute.

I’ve been speaking at Birmingham People’s Assembly and the trades council making sure people know the truth.

This is a Labour council, and I am absolutely disgusted with these Labour councillors. Not one of them has supported our dispute or come on our picket lines.

But we’ve got the public on our side and the tide is turning in our favour. We will win this dispute.

We will not be bullied. We will not be intimidated. And we will not be lied to by the bureaucrats and oligarchs at the city council.

Send messages of support to lynne.shakespeare@unitetheunion.org Send cheques payable to “Unite the union” to Unite the union, Transport House, 9-17 Victoria Street, West Bromwich B70 8HX

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