Unite in court bid to prevent dismissal of bin workers in Birmingham
The legal challenge is being brought against the background of an ongoing strike over proposals for reorganising the city’s waste collection services.
Trade union Unite is launching a High Court bid to block 113 bin workers losing their jobs in Birmingham.
The case is being brought against the background of an ongoing strike over proposals for reorganising the city’s waste collection services.
Unite was due to start its legal challenge in London on Thursday, but the hearing was re-fixed for Monday next week because of time constraints on it taking place this week.
The union is seeking an interim injunction restraining Birmingham City Council’ from dismissing grade three “leading hands”, referred to in court as middle grade waste collection supervisors, pending a full legal challenge over the legality of the council’s actions.
The redundancy notices were due to take effect on October 1, but the council undertook to extend the deadline by three days to October 4 in view of the delayed court hearing.
The court had heard the bin workers were under serious time pressures to decide whether, if the legal challenge fails, to take lower grade jobs, seek other grade three employment or apply for employment outside the local authority.
The union is arguing the council’s actions are unlawful and breach an agreement reached through Acas.
The bin strike started this summer, and a ballot for further action is expected to be completed on September 18.
Rubbish has been piling up in some parts of the city.
Unite’s members are currently striking for a total of three hours a day.
Workers are also returning to the depot for all lunch and tea breaks in line with Birmingham council’s hygiene policy.
Timothy Straker QC, appearing for the city council, told Mr Justice Morris he would be arguing that the courts should not interfere with the council’s actions “for a raft of reasons”.
He said: “Birmingham City Council regard this as a matter of extreme importance, not least of which are the very considerable political pressures placed upon them.”
He said the council was “not merely in a financial straitjacket but a legal-financial straitjacket.”
Later a council spokesman said: “We will continue to robustly defend the action so we can deliver a plan that is in the best interests of Birmingham’s citizens.
“In addition, we will continue to make every effort to resolve the dispute as quickly as possible so we can deliver on one of the key priorities for citizens – cleaner, greener streets.”