Bins in Birmingham will be collected fortnightly from today - and the first one-day walkout by striking bin men is tomorrow.

It all adds up to a rubbish heap of misery for residents who have been caught up in the crossfire as unions and Birmingham City Council do battle.

From today, the whole city moves to waste collections every fortnight in what is billed as a temporary measure while industrial action is under way. It is designed to ensure "reliability of service" until the dispute is resolved, say council chiefs.

Household and recycling bins will now be collected on the same day, every fortnight.

Bin bags and rubbish piling up outside homes on Hancock Road

Residents are asked to put out both bins or black sacks on the day they would normally expect their recycling to be collected. An extra two or three black bags of rubbish will also be permitted.

The city’s five  household recycling centres  will be open daily.

 

From tomorrow there will be a series of one day strikes to ramp up the pressure for a settlement.

Further strike dates this month will be Friday February 22, Wednesday February 27 and Thursday February 28.

Next month additional strike days will be on Monday March 4, Friday March 8, Tuesday March 12, Wednesday March 13, Thursday March 21 and Friday March 22.

Birmingham City Council has created a handy online link for residents to check their collection day.

Why are bin collections being disrupted?

In December members of the union Unite - representing the vast majority of the city's estimated 350 refuse workers - voted to take industrial action after secret payments to GMB union members by Birmingham City Council were uncovered.

The union say the payments - totalling £68,000 - were a 'reward' to GMB workers for not striking during the bins dispute that crippled the city throughout the summer of 2017.

Unite members protest as binmen go back out on strike - Howard Beckett, assistant general secretary
Unite members protest as binmen go back out on strike - Howard Beckett, assistant general secretary

The city council and GMB admit the payment was subject to secrecy clauses but say it was in settlement of a fair legal claim that GMB workers were not properly consulted over working practices introduced to end the 2017 strike.

That explanation has not deterred Unite members, who introduced a work to rule and overtime ban from December 29.

In this video clip, Unite boss Howard Beckett speaks to the binmen of Birmingham about industrial action:

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Action has since escalated because of continued wrangles over bin men's applications for leave and the council's use of agency crews to collect rubbish.

Both sides are taking legal action against the other over the dispute.

 

The city council's handling of the whole bins dispute has come under fire from unions and opposition councillors.

Last week we revealed how the city's Labour leadership had offered payments of up to £3,000 for each of the bin workers to resolve the dispute. That decision was condemned by the city's Labour and Lib Dem groups, and has now been "called in" for scrutiny. A special Cabinet meeting takes place on Wednesday to discuss the issue.

Coun Debbie Clancy (Con, Longbridge and West Heath) said the way the council has negotiated with Unite over bins has been "an embarrassment".

She said: “Council Leader Ian Ward’s handling of this dispute has been an embarrassment to this city from the outset, costing tax payers millions and giving rise to some very significant financial and legal risks. His dysfunctional relationship with his friends in the Labour movement since promising to resolve the dispute on becoming leader, back in 2017, appears only to have made matters worse.”