Coronavirus: Wirral binmen walk out over three-in-a cab fears

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Waste binsImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The union claims workers concerns have been ignored

Refuse collectors in Merseyside have walked out over fears they are being put at risk of catching coronavirus.

Workers from the union Unite claim Biffa Waste Services, which empties bins for Wirral Council, does not have strict enough social distancing.

Unite said Biffa was still instructing crews of up to three workers to share a cab on their collection rounds.

Wirral Council said it was working closely with Biffa to "come to a speedy and appropriate resolution".

In a statement Biffa said: "We strongly refute Unite's claim that we have failed to take the health concerns of our employees seriously."

It added: "We are closely monitoring and strictly following the guidance set out by both Public Health England (PHE) and the Waste Industry Safety and Health Forum (Wish)."

Unite said it had been demanding for more than a fortnight that Biffa introduced strict social distancing measures to help ensure the workforce was not exposed to the coronavirus.

It claimed the company had failed to take the workforce's "concerns seriously", and up to three crew members were still being told to share a cab on refuse rounds.

'Failed to protect'

This was at odds with measures taken in other areas which ensured bin workers were appropriately spaced out, the union added.

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 members' health concerns, but these calls have been ignored."

A Wirral Council spokesman said: "It is our understanding that all the health and safety measures currently in place for Biffa crews in Wirral are in line with national guidelines for key workers from the waste industry, as set out by the Waste Industry Safety and Health Forum."

Last week bin men in Birmingham refused to pick up rubbish bags with used face masks spilling out of them found at a block of flats.

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