Birmingham · UK

Birm-bin-gham: Reporting from the frontline of a Bin Strike

I’m a proud Brummie. I have a badge that says “Brummie”. Darn it, even this blog has the word “Brummie” in the title. But at the moment, it’s a bit difficult to be proud of Birmingham. Because it looks something like this:

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Pic from BBC.co.uk

Yep. we’re 5 six weeks into the “official” Birmingham Bin Strike. When Brummies look back on the summer of 2017, they’ll remember two things. The fact that it’s the year that autumn started in August. And the year that the binmen and the council couldn’t sit down like rational people and thrash out some sort of deal which would mean that the council-tax paying citizens of Brum may actually have their rubbish collected.

It’s been three four weeks since our rubbish was collected, and yes, even in our relatively frugal two-person household, our wheelie bin doth overflow. Our recycling bin was last emptied seven eight weeks ago. Yes, seven eight weeks. Two weeks before the “official” bin strike started. We now have enough cardboard to construct a small community for the homeless (which may not be a bad idea). And we could go to our local tip, however who wants to sit in a small metal container for six hours with bags of rotting garbage and soggy cardboard in the back seat?

I have sympathy for the refuse collectors who fear job losses and pay cuts. And also for the council who feel that our refuse service is not as cost-efficient or effective as it could be and are trying to make the necessary steps to improve this. But this does not help the people of Birmingham. It’s now a matter of public health & safety. Bin bags are piled up on the edge of the pavement and are a magnet for rats, ripping open the flimsy black plastic, spewing garbage all over the street. The council have advised us to leave out our bins and bags, in the vain hope that an elusive refuse van may make an appearance. People now talk about binmen the way they talk about the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy; a mythical being that only appears to those that truly truly believe. And like a child at Christmas, I throw open the curtains wide each morning, full of hope and expectation, hoping that instead of Santa Claus leaving a gift, someone has come and taken away our binbag-wrapped rubbish. So far, there has been nothing but disappointment.

Two hours strike a day turned into three, and is now set to continue into September. For a city that is working so hard to improve its image and attract visitors from far and wide, this is a poor showing. It’s quite literally, a big pile of rubbish. Brummies of course, whilst angry, are showing off their inimitable sense of humour..

Citizens are even taking matters into their own hands, hiring their own tipper trucks to try and rid their local area of the ever-increasing pile of rubbish. And yes, that is a link to a Guardian article, because the situation has made the national news. This has set back our tourist board campaign years.

So, this is A Brummie Home and Abroad, reporting from the Birmingham slums, dodging the rats, bluebottles and maggots. Come visit soon!!

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7 thoughts on “Birm-bin-gham: Reporting from the frontline of a Bin Strike

  1. This rubbish thing is interesting well not for you locals. What I am referring to is the fly tipping. Got so much coverage on the news back in NZ when we were last there for a holiday that when driving around from down south to the north, we didn’t see that much. The rubbish guys must have a strong union. Hopefully, their bank accounts can see them through the no pay issue.

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    1. We pay council tax, and one of those services we pay for is refuse collection. The council should be ensuring this service – any service – continues through their negotiations, even if they have to call in private contractors. We’re paying for a service which we’re not currently getting so I think the customers have a right to complain. The annoying thing is that they seem to be picking and choosing the areas that are being cleared – and strangely it’s the more affluent areas, the suburbs and the city centre which are still frequently cleared. Grrr 😠

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      1. No the choosing of certain areas in a worldwide issue. I would be very annoyed too. Wouldn’t it be breaking the union rules by bringing in other workers? What surprises me there is still strong unions out there! Definitely the council needs to be more accountable!

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