Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union, which represents thousands of workers at the Ministry of Defence, has expressed alarm after the MoD scrapped guidance of how asbestos should be dealt with, without consultation with the union.

Guidance withdrawn

The official government statement said: “An important note about Chapter 36 Asbestos (January 2016) currently being reviewed and no reference or use should be made of the currently published guidance therein. The Defence Safety Authority take no responsibility for the use of the current guidance.”

The decision to scrap the existing guidance will alarm many MoD workers who have lost faith with management about dealing with asbestos issues, following the closure of the Ashchurch MoD base in Gloucestershire due to asbestos contamination and the government’s refusal to warn former employees that they could have been exposed to asbestos when maintaining and repairing the Sea King helicopter.

Failing MoD

Unite national officer for MoD workers Jim Kennedy said: “This latest action demonstrates once again that the MoD is failing in its duty to protect workers from exposure to asbestos.

“To remove the existing guidance, without consulting or even informing unions, is completely unacceptable.

“To do so before new guidance is in place demonstrates that the MoD is yet again failing in its duties to protect workers.

“The problems at Ashchurch and the Sea King scandal mean that thousands of MoD workers have potentially been exposed to asbestos and the department has failed to put in rigorous procedures to ensure workers’ safety.

“It is now incumbent on the MoD to explain why the guidance was withdrawn, when new guidance will be introduced and what processes must be followed in the meantime.”


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235. Email: [email protected]

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