Members of Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union, employed by Biffa Waste Services employed on Wirral council’s outsourced refuse collection contract, have today (Tuesday 7 April) refused to work due to coronavirus health fears.

Inaction

The workers have for over a fortnight been demanding that Biffa introduces strict social distancing measures to help ensure the workforce is not exposed to the coronavirus.

Biffa has failed to take the workforce's concerns seriously, and is still instructing workers of up to three crew members to share a cab on refuse rounds.

Poor performance

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.

 Protect workers

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.”

Separate pay dispute 

The walkout today is entirely unconnected to the separate ongoing pay dispute

ENDS

Notes to editors:

 During the coronavirus crisis Unite is working to keep workers and the public safe, to defend jobs and to protect incomes.

For media enquiries ONLY please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 07802 329235 or 0203 371 2067.

Email: barckley.sumner@unitetheunion.org

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.