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Refuse Collection and Equal Pay in Birmingham

There is a lot of confusion about the issues behind the industrial action by Refuse Collectors in Birmingham.

What is clear is that there have been problems collecting the rubbish.

The background to the issue is Single Status and the Pay and Grading Review. Most of the pain in this process arose from the need to cut some people's pay to fit the overall pay scale.

Initially the Refuse Collectors were "assimilated" part way up the grade. However, legal action was taken against the council which declared that this particular proposal was unlawful. Hence the council has been forced to cut the pay of the refuse collectors.

The alternative is to increase the pay of everyone working for the City Council by around £4,000. That is because the system of pay grades include the vast majority of council employees and it is not possible to have a separate scheme.

The comparison made was between Refuse Operatives (Bin Men) and Canteen Workers (Dinner Ladies). Personally I have worked as a Night Cook in a Hospital. Personally I think Refuse Collecting is a job that should pay more given the demands. However, the law says otherwise.

The pay reduction went through in 2010.

So, we have had Christmas, lots of Snow and a strike. The initial strike had no effect because it was on a day when rubbish would not be collected. There also has been "working to rule". That means that the Refuse Collectors will not do overtime to clear up the mess. The Council, however, does have agency staff and casuals who are working to clear the rubbish as well.

I am not surprised that the Refuse Collectors are protesting. I have some sympathy with their situation, but the council does have to follow the law. I do not support the industrial action.

There are also other actions being taken which are not at all acceptable. The photos of bin bags below are ones I took with my mobile phone just after a refuse collecting truck had gone down this road.

In other words they have deliberately decided not to pick up all the rubbisn in that road. They are supposed to collect it from frontages and not only if it is on the road. However, if you look at the photos you will see that the rubbish is really quite close to the road in any event.

There also have been small groves missed out.
Rubbish piles just after a refuse collection truck has been down the road.


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R v SUSSEX JUSTICES ex p McCARTHY [1924] 1 KB 256

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R v SUSSEX JUSTICES ex p McCARTHY [1924] 1 KB 256

November 9 1923

Editor’s comments in bold.

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