Wirral refuse workers down tools over coronavirus safety fears

Unite members employed by Biffa Waste Services on Wirral council’s outsourced refuse collection contract have refused to work due to coronavirus health fears.

The workers have for over a fortnight been demanding the company introduces strict social distancing measures to help ensure the workforce is not exposed to the coronavirus. But the union says Biffa has failed to take their concerns seriously, and is still instructing workers of up to three crew members to share a cab on refuse rounds.

The attitude of Biffa on the Wirral is at odds with the measures taken on other contracts, including by Newham council in London initially leading the way in introducing measures to ensure workers socially distance, followed by other councils and private contractors.

Unite regional officer Steven Gerrard said: “For over a fortnight Unite has been trying to ensure that Biffa introduced measures to protect our members and they have failed to do so. We have been calling for an urgent meeting to find a safe workable solution to our member’s health concerns, but these calls have been ignored.

“Our members have informed us that enough is enough and they will not continue to have their health and the health of their families placed at needless risk.

“Residents of the Wirral will be alarmed that their refuse workers, who are playing a key worker role, are being treated with such disregard.

“Other councils and contractors have introduced measures to ensure social distancing, it is not rocket science and Biffa must take immediate measures to ensure the safety of its workforce.”

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