Coventry Council sacks hundreds!

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Protest against cuts at Birmingham council – Coventry council is now to sack all its refuse workers

THE UNITE union has described the decision of Coventry council to press ahead and fire and rehire its entire refuse collection workforce as totally abhorrent and entirely unnecessary.

Unite has been in longstanding negotiations with the Labour-led authority, over changes to the working practices for the refuse collection team and the removal of task and finish (which allows workers to go home when all the work is complete).

The council put forward several proposals to resolve the dispute, all of which Unite accepted without conditions, only for the council to withdraw its own proposals and press ahead with brutally firing and rehiring its own workers.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: ‘The actions of Coventry council in firing and rehiring its refuse collection workers is abhorrent. This makes Coventry and its Labour councillors the pariahs of the Labour movement.

‘Unite never takes a backward step when the jobs, pay and conditions of its members come under attack. Coventry council is now on notice that Unite will use every possible avenue to get this disgusting decision reversed.’

The decision to fire and rehire its workers has placed the council in direct contravention of Labour Party policy which is for an unequivocal ban on such practices.

Labour leader Keir Starmer has repeatedly stated his commitment to outlawing fire and rehire. He has said: ‘My message is very clear – we would ban fire and rehire, it’s as simple as that. It just needs to be done.’

Unite’s workers in the refuse collection department already have an active mandate for industrial action and given the council’s decision to fire and rehire them, strike action beginning before Easter is now likely. The exact timing and nature of any dispute is being actively discussed with the workforce.

Unite national lead officer Onay Kasab said: ‘Coventry council’s actions are reprehensible.

‘Unite has in good faith been involved in extensive negotiations with the council and has accepted several of the council’s proposals only for them to be then taken off the table. It is now clear that Coventry was never committed to securing a just settlement for its workers.

‘It is almost inevitable that Coventry council’s decision will result in fresh bin strikes and the inevitable disruption for local residents is directly a result of its actions.’