Unions to protest Birmingham City Council cuts and job losses at Victoria Square

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An extraordinary meeting is to take place on Monday (September 25) in a bid for the council to find a way out of its financial situation with debts rising to £1 billion

Members of Unison, Unite and GMB – the trade unions representing council workers - are set to protest outside a meeting of Birmingham City Council on Monday (September 25).

An extraordinary meeting is to take place on Monday (September 25) in a bid for the council to find a way out of its financial situation with debts rising to £1 billion.

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Birmingham Trades Union Council has called for a rally on Monday to “oppose Michael Gove and his Commissioners taking apart Birmingham City Council.” They wrote on X (formerly Twitter): “Birmingham is not for sale.” The rally will take place at the Council House at Victoria Square at 5pm.

They added: “We must fight for a Council fit to support its workers and serve the people of this city - and stand firm against the political choice of austerity from this government that caused this crisis. We’ll see you there!”

This wouldn’t be the first protest by the unions in Birmingham. On September 12, at a protest outside Birmingham’s full council meeting, joint branch secretary for Unison Birmingham, Caroline Johnson, claimed officers at the city council want to “keep salaries low”.

She said: “I think it would suit officers to lower the pay of everybody in the council and one way to do it is to use an untransparent scheme and then lower the pay line for everybody. I think there’s an attempt to blame the workforce somehow. It’s either ‘those women who want their equal pay’ or it’s ‘those men who’ve been overpaid’ [who get blamed]. We stand very firmly with our refuse workers – they’re not overpaid. Women are underpaid when men are not overpaid in this organisation.”

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Birmingham City Council HouseBirmingham City Council House
Birmingham City Council House | Matthew - stock.adobe.com

The Council had issued a second Section 114 notice on September 21, 2023. GMB Union had reacted to the announcement.

Rachel Fagan, GMB Organiser, said:“This is pure politics from council top brass, piling pressure onto politicians to take what would be a catastrophic decision for the city.

“The council’s proposals lock workers out of the job evaluation process, risking more discrimination and more debt which would threaten the future of the city’s services. Birmingham City Council already owes hundreds of millions of pounds to its low-paid women workers, wages that have been stolen from them over years of discriminatory pay practises, and that bill is growing by the minute.

“For almost two years, GMB has urged the council to work with us in re-implementing the NJC scheme, the gold standard scheme for local government jobs. That would end the discrimination and stop the clock on the city’s mounting equal pay debts. The council needs to act quickly, but the people of Birmingham can’t afford for them to get this wrong again. Another sticking plaster fix won’t cut it. It’s time for real pay justice.”

Birmingham City Council have been contacted for their comment.

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