Bin strike continues to defend safety role


Unite has expressed dismay after Birmingham city council reneged on a deal that had restored ‘grade 3’ jobs on refuse wagons and had led to the suspension of a seven-week bin strike . The grade 3 workers include those responsible for safety at the rear of the refuse vehicles. Bin workers resumed the strike last week after the deal fell apart when the council said it was issuing redundancy notices to some workers on this grade. Unite described the news contained in a letter from the council’s interim chief executive as ‘deeply provocative’. Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: “The last thing refuse workers want to do is resume industrial action and see piles of rubbish accumulating on Birmingham’s streets. This is their city too. Our members want to focus on delivering a safe efficient service to people of Birmingham.” He added: “Unite calls on the council to come to its senses and withdraw these redundancy notices to avoid the disruption of industrial action.” Concerns in the US over the vehicle safety risks to refuse workers led to a spate of new laws. Last year, New York State become the latest in the US to introduce a ‘slow down’ law to protect garbage workers. Slow down laws had already been introduced in 11 other states over the last decade in response to distracted driving that has led to sometimes fatal incidents for refuse collection workers.