The politician behind Birmingham City Council's controversial pay shake-up yesterday said he sympathised with critics of a decision to offer binmen £100 overtime to collect rubbish they should have picked up during this week's strike.
Alan Rudge said the decision was an "operational matter" and was taken by a senior council officer with the intention of clearing bags of rubbish from the streets as quickly as possible.
But Coun Rudge, the cabinet member for equalities and human resources, said he could understand people might question whether strikers should profit from their action.
Coun Rudge (Con Sutton Vesey) said he originally understood the payment would only go to binmen who did not take part in last Tuesday's strike.
But unions insist the one-day stoppage was fully supported by all refuse crews.
Union organisers say they expect binmen to reject the overtime offer, which amounts to £91 per person.
Coun Rudge confirmed the deal was proposed by Ian Coghill, the director of community safety and environmental services.
Mr Coghill defended the overtime offer. He said he was left with no option after unions warned rubbish would remain on the streets uncollected.
Mr Coghill added: "That presents health and environmental risks that we simply cannot take.
"It may not be a palatable decision to have to make, but it was the most cost effective and least disruptive option in the circumstances.
"The unions cannot be unaware that they risk losing public sympathy by such action and the support of their fellow council workers."
He hoped all rubbish would be cleared by next week at the latest.
Mr Coghill added: "We apologise for any disruption to service and every effort is being made to pick up any outstanding refuse and recycling.
"We are attempting to collect any black sacks of waste, but we would advise residents in the meantime to take back in any sacks they have left out and put it back in the normal place for collection by the crews next Tuesday."
Talks aimed at settling the pay dispute are expected to resume shortly. About 5,000 employees stand to lose money under a new grading system designed to iron out pay inequalities between men and women.