Birmingham Bin Dispute: How Much Is It Costing?

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The ongoing dispute between Birmingham City Council and refuse workers is costing the city an estimated £311,000 a week.

The workers have been on strike since the 30th June in protest of the council’s decision to remove 113 posts, with the authority saying the city saying “significant financial challenges” were to blame.

Cost started at £21,000 a week in July but have risen due to the authority bringing in external contractors to clear rubbish, according to a report to the council cabinet. It also warns of “additional pressure” on the city’s finances for next year.

The council have said that the new restricting plans will save the city £5.2 million a year, with the budget for waste management falling from £71 million in 2011 to £65 million.

About £30 a year of council tax by a household goes towards the cost of having bins emptied.

However, despite the cost, the council is not planning on offering refunds.

“Council Tax is not paid to fund a particular service and there is a legal obligation to pay. It’s also important to understand that the cost per household for each weekly collection is about 92p – for all refuse and recycling collections,” said the authority on its website.

That would make the total cost per household about £48 a year.

The council plans to create about 200 collection jobs for “loaders”, to balance the loss of 113 supervisory roles. They say this will help it reduce its reliance on agency workers, who cost more to employ than permanent staff.

The council has said it wants to modernise its waste service with the changes, to make it “as efficient as those run by other councils”.

However, Unite union refused to accept the reorganization plans. Following talks which lead to a suspension of the strike mid-August, the workers returned to the picket lines last week after the council reportedly backed out of an agreed deal.

The plans by the council also include a change in the working arrangement of some workers, which Unite say will cost some staff between £3,000 and £5,000 annually.

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