Wirral housing workers to strike over deadly asbestos fears
- Friday 3 February 2023
Workers at social housing landlord Magenta Living are to take extensive strike action over fears that new working practices will expose them to asbestos.
The 100 plus workers, who are members Unite, the UK’s leading union, are employed in repairs and maintenance roles for Magenta Living, which manages 13,000 properties mainly covering the Wirral.
Magenta Living has imposed a change of policy when dealing with asbestos. Previously, the workforce was trained that when they identified asbestos to stop work. If it required removal, specialist contractors were employed. Under the new policy the workers are expected to work with asbestos.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “The actions of Magenta Living are deplorable. It is trying to force our members to undertake work they are not properly trained for, which risks their lives and that of tenants.
“Unite never takes a backward step when it comes to ensuring the safety of its workers and our members at Magenta will receive the union’s complete support.”
Talks broken down
Peace talks, aimed at reversing Magenta Living’s decision to force staff to work with asbestos have broken down.
The workers will begin strike action on Monday 6 February for a week and then will be on strike every other week, with the final week of the initial industrial action due to begin on Monday 17 April. In total, the workers are due to take 30 days of strike action
The strike action will result in tenants of Magenta Living experiencing severe delays in repairs and maintenance.
There were over 5,000 deaths due to exposure to asbestos in 2020 (the latest figures). This includes over 2,500 from mesothelioma, an incurable cancer of the lining of the lung caused by being exposed to asbestos. Construction workers are now the group at greatest risk of being exposed to asbestos. Asbestos was not finally banned in the UK until 2000 and many of the homes built before that date contain the substance.
Delays and disruption
Unite regional officer John Sheppard said: “Strike action will inevitably lead to severe delays and disruption to tenants' homes. However this industrial action is being taken as a last resort as Magenta Living is introducing policies that risk the lives of its staff and tenants.
“Magenta Living has been given every opportunity to resolve this dispute through negotiations but it has refused to do so.”
For media enquiries ONLY please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 07802 329235 or 0203 371 2067.
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Unite is the UK and Ireland’s leading union fighting to protect and advance jobs, pay and conditions for members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.