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Agreement was reached to maintain Grade 3 roles

Agreement was reached to maintain Grade 3 roles

🕔02.Sep 2017

An agreement WAS reached between Birmingham city council and Unite the union on 15 August, according to Acas. It says the terms of the agreement were made public at the request of both parties in a press release agreed with both parties. 

This is the text of the press release issued by Acas on 16 August, with our emphasis:

Following discussions at Acas the following terms have been agreed:

Birmingham City Council and Unite the Union have today made sufficient progress in their talks for the Shop Stewards to pause industrial action.

Birmingham City Council cabinet members have agreed in principle that the grade 3 posts will be maintained. Consequently there are no redundancy steps in place.

In addition the parties will now look to discuss, through Acas, how the service can be improved, with the intention of improving efficiencies in performance of the bin collection service generally, including what savings can be made, and specifically how best the current Grade 3 roles can now be maintained and developed so that they take forward the ambition to deliver cleaner streets and align to wider Total Place principles.

Unite have also agreed in principle to recommend to their members work pattern changes, including consideration of a 5 day working week. Both parties agree the working week should be designed to maximise service delivery.

To assist in the resolution of outstanding issues both parties will go to Acas.

These discussions will be with the intention of incorporating any agreement as an amendment to the Waste Management Service Cabinet Report in September 2017.

Both parties are pleased to be recommencing industrial relations and pleased that the bin collection can resume without disruption.

The statement by Acas, that there was an agreement in principle to retain the Grade 3 roles and that the press release was agreed to by both parties, follows assertions by the council leader in a BBC interview yesterday that there was “no deal.”

Yesterday, Cllr Clancy said:

There was an agreement, in principle, to talk at Acas.

READ: Leadership hangs in balance, Improvement Panel still running

The council leader’s office says that the ‘proposed deal’ worked out by Cllr Clancy and Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett was arrived at in good faith, but subsequent legal advice from leading counsel made it clear that the deal would leave the council open to “massive” equal pay claims because it centres on retaining Grade 3 Leading Hands.

The i online newspaper carried ‘a day in the life’ article from a Grade 3 Birmingham city council worker earlier this week, setting out his reasons for going on strike action. Dismissing council claims the new waste collection system will be safer, he says:

The refuse vehicle is around 12 tonnes when empty and twice that when full. The driver’s vision is limited and although there are cameras, these won’t stop a child from running around the back of the vehicle, or coming too close. They won’t stop a resident from attempting to throw their own waste into the back either.

The issue with this is the lifting mechanism for the bins is automatic and is activated by a sensor, so when an untrained person gets close, they can be seriously injured. My role is safety critical. I’ve lost count over the years of how many times I have prevented a serious accident.

READ: Trashy Tale – Leader and the Leading Hands

Earlier, Chamberlain Files received an alert from Twitter that seemed to sum up one of the contributory factors in this latest council crisis.

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