A being treated in an unfair way or

A key strength of the refuse workers position is that they
have the complete right to strike if they think they are being treated in an
unfair way or if there is an ongoing dispute that is not being resolved and in
this situation, this is the case. These hardworking individuals are being faced
with the prospect of losing their job even though they have done nothing wrong
just because the council are struggling to handle their finances effectively.
One refuse worker called Mike said that “People could lose their houses because
of the cutbacks. Why should we let that happen?” while another worker, Dave,
talked about the personal impact this would have on him he said “I’m already in
debt, and if we lose this I literally won’t be able to survive”. This
reinforces how important it is to these workers to win this dispute and what
the devastating personal consequences would be if they lose.

It could also be argued that they have don’t have
unreasonable requests which strengthens their argument, one worker states “We
just want to keep our job at the rate we’ve been paid. We haven’t even had a
pay rise in five years.” Furthermore, Unite showed that they aren’t being
completely unreasonable and are willing to compromise when they suspended their
strike action on the 16th of August when they were told by the
council that no one would be made redundant and Unite in return agreed to
encourage the workers to accept the proposed shift changes. However, the council
backed out on their side of the deal and claimed that no such promise had been
made. This shows how the council gave these workers false hope for their own
benefit, the council then took it one step further by announcing they were
going to hand out redundancy notices to grade three workers despite previously
firmly saying that there would be no job losses as a result of the changes
which then understandably led to the strike resuming on the 1st of
September. Unite said the way the authority had acted showed that they were
‘more interested in conflict than finding a negotiated settlement to an ongoing
dispute’. I agree with their decision to resume the strike as they had no other
choice because the council had shown that they weren’t going to resolve the dispute.

A weakness of the refuse workers position is that their
industrial action has cost the government a significant amount of money, over
£6 million has been spent on this dispute and this money could have been spent
more effectively in other areas. This cost to the council could even possibly
lead to even more cuts in the waste collection service. Furthermore, households
in Birmingham pay approximately £30 a year through council tax to have their
waste collected but due to these strikes this isn’t happening and is causing
them a huge inconvenience and the council isn’t willing to offer them a
refund. 

Moreover, another key weakness of the refuse workers
position is that their decision to strike and stop collecting rubbish is having
severe consequences on the streets of Birmingham leading to the city becoming a
‘sea of rubbish’ due to the uncontrollable overflow of uncollected bin bags.
One resident describes the situation by saying “We have foxes here at
night and maggots crawling all over the bins,”.

However, the refuse workers would argue that this isn’t
their fault and instead it is the councils. Unite states, “The last thing
refuse workers want to do is resume industrial action and see piles of rubbish
accumulating on Birmingham’s streets. This is their city too.” They then go on
to say “Instead of embracing an agreement that would have seen compromise on
all sides, the council seems content to put people on the dole and cut their
wages by up to £5,000.” This is them saying that the council has left them with
no other option but to strike as it is the council who aren’t willing to
compromise despite the effects this dispute is having on the city.

It could also be argued that there’s no need for the refuse
workers to take industrial action if they are being promised new jobs within
the council with the same pay and this can be seen as another weakness of their
position but the refuse workers would argue that there is no guarantee of this
and the council have backed out on their word before. One workers opinion on
the council saying they would be given alternative employment is that “They say
there are jobs, but these aren’t real jobs—they’re a propaganda exercise. It
means the council can keep saying it’s not making anyone redundant.”

Comments are closed.