In 2015 the USU publicly raised the deplorable way Liverpool City Council dealt with asbestos related issues. Only after Councillors became involved were senior council officers forced into acting.

It still took appearances at the NSW Industrial Relations Commission for council to share information with the Union and our members. The unwillingness of the previous CEO Carl Wulff to work in a collaborative manner saw USU members ban work in over 35 worksites.  Some of these sites are still not cleared for Council staff to work in.

Following the departure of Mr Wulff the Councillors, the Union and our members were advised that safety was of the utmost importance and that we would never see a repeat of what had occurred.

Over the last two weeks there have been FIVE instances which highlight that attitudes amongst management at Liverpool Council have not changed:

1.    On the 11th August 2016 an incident occurred in Pitt Street Badgery’s Creek.  Not only did Council’s processes in this situation put staff and residents at risk, the Union is advised that the plant used has still not been decontaminated. Furthermore it is unclear whether a resident who spread the asbestos with their vehicle was advised of the dangers.

2.    On the 15th August 2016 an incident occurred in Memorial lane Liverpool.  Once again staff were put at risk. Staff were not issued PPE. Once again the plant involved has not been decontaminated.

3.    On the 16th August 2016 a staff member was sent to collect waste in Mary Way Carnes Hill. It later became apparent that the relevant co-ordinator had a CRMS that clearly indicated that asbestos was present. This information was not shared with the staff member nor did the Co-ordinator follow any of the correct procedures. This led to asbestos being returned to the yard. At this time the situation worsened as management refused to implement the correct procedures for transporting the asbestos and it was driven through Liverpool on the way to the tip.  This exposed an untold number of members of the public to the hazardous material.

4.    The truck referred to above has not yet been decontaminated. Plant exposed over the last two weeks has continued to be used by staff which has placed them at further risk.

5.    On the 12th November 2015 the Union formally advised Council that asbestos was reported to be present at Paculio Oval. It appears that Council did not act on this for over 9 months. The site was only inspected this week and asbestos was prevalent around the site.

Council’s ongoing attitude to asbestos and safety is unacceptable.  Any Co-ordinators who acted outside Council’s policies and procedures should be disciplined. Any members of the management team who allowed contaminated vehicles to remain in use and in the depot should be dealt with immediately and severely for once again placing staff at risk.

For further information please contact your delegate or your organiser, Sandie Morthen, on 0419 761 326 or