Quantcast

500 Sydney Outdoor Workers Hold Walkout Over RoundUp Health Concerns

Health + Wellness
The Blacktown City Council building in New South Wales, Australia. Blacktown City Council / Facebook

A town council in Sydney says it will start to trial alternative herbicides after 500 workers went on strike due to safety concerns over glyphosate-based Roundup, according to the Australian Associated Press.


The outdoor staff in Blacktown, a western suburb of Sydney, refused to continue spraying glyphosate and urged management to follow the lead of the several other city councils that have phased out Roundup and started to use other herbicides.

The strike started last Wednesday after management ordered six staff members to either use Roundup or find other work, according to the United Services Union, which represents the striking workers, as The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

"Outdoor staff responded by halting work and returning to their depots, leaving more than 10,000 bins uncollected," a union statement said, as reported by Channel 7 News in Australia.

The workers decided to continue their protest on Thursday.

Blacktown City Council sought an urgent hearing in the Industrial Relations Commissions on Thursday morning after thousands of garbage bins were not collected and some outdoor services were disrupted.

After the meeting, the council announced on Thursday afternoon it would implement a trial of a "viable alternate weed control product," as The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The five-month trial will compare the efficacy of an alternate organic product used by some of the town's outdoor crews, while others will continue to use a glyphosate product.

The union called the transition to an organic product a "win for workers," who returned to work.

"Weed spraying is a common task for outdoor council staff, so it is understandable that workers have been deeply concerned by international legal cases which found a strong link between the use of glyphosate products and developing cancer," United Services Union secretary Graeme Kelly said in a statement, as The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Kelly had earlier said that governments, companies and individuals around the world were abandoning glyphosate-based herbicides because of growing evidence that it causes cancer.

Yet, the Blacktown City Council rejected that argument. In a statement, the council said Australia's pesticides authority, which states that glyphosate is safe for humans, animals and the environment, guided its decisions. The statement made a point that no regulatory agency in the world considers it to be a carcinogen, as the Australian Associated Press reported.

The massive $2 billion jury-award to a California couple who claimed Roundup caused their non-Hodgkins lymphoma prompted the Cancer Council of Australia to warn people who regularly use Roundup that they may be increasing their risk of cancer. Still, Roundup remains the most widely used herbicide in Australia and its use is unrestricted, according to Channel 7 News.

Blacktown's response to create a trial is the suburb's first step in weaning itself off glyphosate-based herbicides.

"Council is continually monitoring the situation and will act according to the recommendations of the regulator and on the findings that result from the trial," Blacktown's Mayor Stephen Bali said in a statement, as the Australian Associated Press reported.

"We have agreed to trial viable alternatives. What is important for everyone to understand is that council will not place employees or members of the public at risk."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

samael334 / iStock / Getty Images

By Ruairi Robertson, PhD

Berries are small, soft, round fruit of various colors — mainly blue, red, or purple.

Read More Show Less
A glacier is seen in the Kenai Mountains on Sept. 6, near Primrose, Alaska. Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey have been studying the glaciers in the area since 1966 and their studies show that the warming climate has resulted in sustained glacial mass loss as melting outpaced the accumulation of new snow and ice. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

By Mark Mancini

On Aug. 18, Iceland held a funeral for the first glacier lost to climate change. The deceased party was Okjökull, a historic body of ice that covered 14.6 square miles (38 square kilometers) in the Icelandic Highlands at the turn of the 20th century. But its glory days are long gone. In 2014, having dwindled to less than 1/15 its former size, Okjökull lost its status as an official glacier.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Members of Chicago Democratic Socialists of America table at the Logan Square Farmers Market on Aug. 18. Alex Schwartz

By Alex Schwartz

Among the many vendors at the Logan Square Farmers Market on Aug. 18 sat three young people peddling neither organic vegetables, gourmet cheese nor handmade crafts. Instead, they offered liberation from capitalism.

Read More Show Less
StephanieFrey / iStock / Getty Images

By Lauren Panoff, MPH, RD

Muffins are a popular, sweet treat.

Read More Show Less
Hackney primary school students went to the Town Hall on May 24 in London after school to protest about the climate emergency. Jenny Matthews / In Pictures / Getty Images

By Caroline Hickman

Eco-anxiety is likely to affect more and more people as the climate destabilizes. Already, studies have found that 45 percent of children suffer lasting depression after surviving extreme weather and natural disasters. Some of that emotional turmoil must stem from confusion — why aren't adults doing more to stop climate change?

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Myrtle warbler. Gillfoto / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Bird watching in the U.S. may be a lot harder than it once was, since bird populations are dropping off in droves, according to a new study.

Read More Show Less
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announces the co-founding of The Climate Pledge at the National Press Club on Sept. 19 in Washington, DC. Paul Morigi / Getty Images for Amazon

The day before over 1,500 Amazon.com employees planned a walkout to participate in today's global climate strike, CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled a sweeping plan for the retail and media giant to be carbon neutral by 2040, 10 years ahead of the Paris agreement schedule.

Read More Show Less

By Winona LaDuke

For the past seven years, the Anishinaabe people have been facing the largest tar sands pipeline project in North America. We still are. In these dying moments of the fossil fuel industry, Water Protectors stand, prepared for yet another battle for the water, wild rice and future of all. We face Enbridge, the largest pipeline company in North America, and the third largest corporation in Canada. We face it unafraid and eyes wide open, for indeed we see the future.

Read More Show Less