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MPs to Clancy: Council is an obstacle to moving forward

MPs to Clancy: Council is an obstacle to moving forward

🕔08.Sep 2017

All of Birmingham’s nine Labour MPs have written to the Labour leader of Birmingham city council, John Clancy, expressing their frustration at the continuing dispute over waste management reform.

Whilst stopping short of asking Cllr Clancy to consider his position or explicitly blaming him for the failure of the agreement and return to industrial action, the letter makes clear the city’s Members of Parliament believe the Council under John Clancy’s leadership is proving to be an obstacle to resolving the dispute.

In the letter, MPs including Jack Dromey, Khalid Mahmood and Liam Byrne say:

Bin workers deserve justice on pay but so too do the citizens of Birmingham deserve clean streets.

The letter seeks to bring the Council to the negotiating table with the unions at Acas to establish a common understanding on the equal pay issues. The parliamentarians are clearly dismayed that the resumption of talks on this issue is taking so long, that Acas are being excluded and that the Council is refusing to “answer straight questions on equal pay.”

It is likely that MPs, in particular Jack Dromey (Erdington) will have been keeping in close touch with union officials. Mr Dromey used to be a senior officer of what is Unite the union today. He effectively plays a co-ordinating role among the city’s Labour MPs.

As we reported yesterday, Chamberlain Files understands the issues raised in our exclusive story on Tuesday have been referred to Labour Party HQ.

Cllr Clancy faces a potentially bumpy meeting with this group on Monday evening followed by a full Council on Tuesday.

Chamberlain Files will continue its coverage over the weekend.

The letter to Cllr Clancy from his Labour colleagues at Westminster, dated 7 September, in full:

Dear John,

We are writing to you to express our dismay over the delay in settling the Bin dispute, which is currently having a devastating impact on the streets of Birmingham.

Bin workers deserve justice on pay but so too do the citizens of Birmingham deserve clean streets when they leave their houses in the morning and in future a high-quality service. Three weeks ago, under the auspices of ACAS, agreement was reached whereby industrial action was suspended and a way forward identified to find a lasting settlement. Key to the making of progress was the establishment of a common understanding on whether or not there are equal pay issues and if so on what scale.

Last week, following a week’s delay, preliminary discussions commenced with Officers of the Council, Jacqui Kennedy and Angela Probert and it was hoped that the meeting on establishing a common understanding on the equal pay issues would take place in time for negotiations to resume last Thursday 31st August. Then, out of the blue, the Chief Executive of the council, Stella Manzie wrote to the unions serving redundancy notices. It was extraordinary that in her letter she actually said “I know that you will be surprised that this given the nature of the discussions Angela Probert and Jacqui Kennedy have been having with you this week”.

That led to a resumption of industrial action but within 24 hours upon our request ACAS identified a process to take place this week, initially of lawyers establishing whether or not there is a common understanding on the equal pay issues and then, hopefully, resumed negotiations today, Thursday. The Council then wrote yesterday, Wednesday, delaying that meeting until 11th September. The delay to talks to settle this dispute is unacceptable. So too is the apparent refusal by the Council to answer straight questions on equal pay. Further, the proposal to exclude ACAS from the next stage discussions is inexplicable given that ACAS has offered to provide an independent third-party by way of an equal pay expert to help reach that common understanding.

Our City now runs the risk of the dispute dragging on for weeks and months to come. That cannot be right. All parties need as a matter of urgency to focus on the reaching of an agreement which is just and which ensures the provision of that high-quality service that the people of Birmingham are entitled to. Those necessary negotiations under your auspices and that of the Cabinet will need to involve the appropriate Officers of the Council so that all outstanding issues can be resolved. But we have to say that right now the Council is an obstacle to moving forward to secure that agreement and an end to the dispute.

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