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Seven ways we coped with the bin strike

Seven ways we coped with the bin strike

🕔23.Aug 2017

They think it’s all over… it is now, sort of, for the Birmingham bin strike. There’s ‘bin one headline spewn across the entire city since June. Hannah Green sifts the social media wheat from the chaff on this filthy topic.

Forget all other international headlines hitting the Twittersphere this summer: abomination over North Korea, our worst fears about Trump’s America coming true, the World Athletics Championships in London or the trickle of Strictly 2017 contestant announcements.  The Birmingham bin strike has ruled over all round ‘ere.

The industrial action by refuse collectors working for Birmingham city council (BCC) started on 30th June due to pay and contract disputes between BCC and the Unite union, on behalf of the refuse workers. Last Wednesday (16th August), became modern-day D-Day for some Birmingham residents with the announcement that the seven week strike by local refuse collectors, which had been rumoured to last until Christmas, had been suspended.

To many, this appears to have read STRIKE OVER. For now, yes. Suspended whilst “Unite create a conducive climate for the talks to proceed smoothly” , yes also. “A fragile ceasefire”, yes that too according to the Mail’s Neil Elkes.

READ: Council – it’s not all rubbish.

We’ve been following with interest how the strike has played out over social media in particular (because we know how to live). Instead of pounding out the click-happy pieces our audience would usually enjoy on the topic, we’ve sat back and observed the 140-character, gif-induced Twitter gold instead.

What would once have been a strike to ground the country to a halt and politically divide a nation in Thatcher’s era has effectively become the source of comedy on the Twitter and Instagram over the past seven weeks. (That’s ignoring all the genuine cries from bemoaning taxpayers found via #birminghambinstrike frustrated at those doing a job not many wish to do are asking for a little change to their working conditions).

In a diversion from the usual Chamberlain Files stylebook, we’ve compiled “7 ways to cope with a city-wide bin strike” (with a little help from our favourite social media mentions of the strike):

1. Use the opportunity to write your very own dystopian Twitter saga. Our top tip has to come from one of the most prominent social media/news influencers in this fair city, the team from iChoose Birmingham (@ichoosemag – which may or may not feature in the top three of this upcoming list). Featuring Pied Piper style swarms of rats taking over the city, in a comic dystopian Twitter tale, this is the Kings Heath way to deal with a bin strike. Excerpts from the (what we presume to be) ongoing saga for your amusement below.

2. Turn it into a fun game for kids.

3. Always make light of the situation. The 50th birthday bins Instagram post (initially spotted @bhamupdates on Instagram but originally tweeted by @outinbrum) depicting bins left uncollected for 50 days was another definite highlight. Picked up nationally by Daily Mail and classic Brummie humour, in our opinion.

4. Make national headlines. Hearing Blighty’s bin strike make BBC Radio 1’s Newsbeat breakfast bulletin sure did brighten the M6 commute knowing your beloved yet oft’ forgotten city hits the national headlines and morning bulletins for all the wrong reasons. Daily Mail, Sky, Daily Express and Huffington Post were also national titles jumping on the (bin) wagon.

5. Don’t listen to your unsympathetic suburban neighbours getting their knickers in a twist. Whilst the leafy surburban bins of his Solihull constituency weren’t suffering anything close to Blighty’s bin strike, Julian Knight, MP for Solihull (unaffected by the Birmingham Bin Strike), still felt it worthy to point out that Google searches for Birmingham reporting the current bin strike saga were hampering Birmingham’s national reputation and therefore his bid to bring Channel 4’s new home to the region. We see his point, yes. Apologies we were just a bit busy wading through rats and rubbish to truly sympathise with you Silhillians over there.

6. When good news arrives, celebrate in the most patriotic way possible.

7. If all else fails, drink. Sickeningly commercial, but we can’t help but be tickled by this attempt from city PR firm Clive Reeves. Nothing to do with their client at Bar Opus, of course.

In serious bin strike news, the latest word as Neil Elkes puts it, is that the strike is currently a “fragile ceasefire“, with immediate emergency refuse collections signalling nothing more than a tea break for Unite vs. Birmingham City Council. Whilst there’s hope a deal can be reached between both sides in good time without the strike dragging out until Christmas, as previous rumour mills whispered, there may be further peace deal refuse-als to come.

CREDITS: Tweets embedded from @ichoosemag, @clivereevespr & Instagram post credit to @outinbrum and @bhamupdates.

Hannah Green is a client services executive at Urban Communications, sister firm of RJF Public Affairs where she leads on social media services, and acts as news editor for the Files. 

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