Birmingham Refuse Collectors Win High Court Battle In Dispute Over Jobs

Refuse collectors fighting for jobs in the wake of a dispute which has led to piles of rubbish being left in Birmingham streets have won a High Court battle.

Union leaders wanted Mr Justice Fraser to block redundancy moves by Birmingham City Council. Bosses at the Labour-controlled council opposed such a move.

The judge on Wednesday ruled in favour of the Unite union after analysing evidence at a two-day High Court hearing in London.

Council bosses outlined plans to make more than 100 redundancies earlier this year as part of a restructure of their waste and recycling service. Unite lawyers said council bosses wanted to remove a “leading hand” role – and change a four-day, nine-hour shift pattern to a five-day, seven-hour arrangement, the judge heard.

Union leaders raised health and safety concerns, saying “leading hands” had responsibilities which council bosses planned to reallocate to lorry drivers. The judge heard that in July staff had begun industrial action and the dispute was continuing.

Unite had also taken legal action, arguing that council bosses’ redundancy plans were unfair and in breach of employment contracts. Council bosses were contesting those claims.

Rubbish bags piled up in Birmingham (Aaron Chown/PA)

Union lawyers asked the judge to grant an injunction which would block redundancy plans pending a ruling on that underlying legal dispute.

Several binmen were at the hearing.

One hailed the judge’s decision as “fantastic” and a “massive victory”.

The judge said the legal dispute between the council and Unite was due to be analysed at a trial in November.

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