Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

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

A scenic view of West Papua. Reza Fakhrudin / Pexels

By Arkilaus Kladit

My name is Arkilaus Kladit. I'm from the Knasaimos-Tehit tribe in South Sorong Regency, West Papua Province, Indonesia. For decades my tribe has been fighting to protect our forests from outsiders who want to log it or clear it for palm oil. For my people, the forest is our mother and our best friend. Everything we need to survive comes from the forest: food, medicines, building materials, and there are many sacred sites in the forest.

Read More Show Less
Everyone overthinks their lives or options every once in a while. Some people, however, can't stop the wheels and halt their train of thoughts. Peter Griffith / Getty Images

By Farah Aqel

Overthinkers are people who are buried in their own obsessive thoughts. Imagine being in a large maze where each turn leads into an even deeper and knottier tangle of catastrophic, distressing events — that is what it feels like to them when they think about the issues that confront them.

Read More Show Less
A newly developed catalyst would transform carbon dioxide from power plants and other sources into ethanol. DWalker44 / E+ / Getty Images

Researchers at the Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory have discovered a cheap, efficient way to convert carbon dioxide into liquid fuel, potentially reducing the amount of new carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere.

Read More Show Less
Eureka Sound on Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic taken by NASA's Operation IceBridge in 2014. NASA / Michael Studinger / Flickr / CC by 2.0

A 4,000-year-old ice shelf in the Canadian Arctic has collapsed into the sea, leaving Canada without any fully intact ice shelves, Reuters reported. The Milne Ice Shelf lost more than 40 percent of its area in just two days at the end of July, said researchers who monitored its collapse.

Read More Show Less
Teachers and activists attend a protest hosted by Chicago Teachers Union in Chicago, Illinois on Aug. 3, 2020 to demand classroom safety measures as schools debate reopening. KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI / AFP via Getty Images

The coronavirus cases surging around the U.S. are often carried by kids, raising fears that the reopening of schools will be delayed and calling into question the wisdom of school districts that have reopened already.

Read More Show Less
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern holds up COVID-19 alert levels during a press conference at Parliament on March 21, 2020 in Wellington, New Zealand. Hagen Hopkins / Getty Images

By Michael Baker, Amanda Kvalsvig and Nick Wilson

On Sunday, New Zealand marked 100 days without community transmission of COVID-19.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Medics with Austin-Travis County EMS transport a nursing home resident with coronavirus symptoms on Aug. 3, 2020 in Austin, Texas. John Moore / Getty Images

The U.S. passed five million coronavirus cases on Sunday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, just 17 days after it hit the four-million case mark.

Read More Show Less