Airport asbestos claims a “Union stunt”

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Western Sydney Airport workers have shut down Union claims that the site is unsafe, alleging they are being “blackmailed” into joining.

Last week, a report by Seven News revealed the CFMEU was alleging that the workers were mishandling asbestos, which was posing a severe risk to their own health and that of the community.

The Union shut the site down and stated that 20 workers refused to transport contaminated soil.

But Western Sydney Airport refuted the claims and said the site was in compliance with Safework NSW regulations.

Construction worker Jack Ritchie said the story was merely a “smear campaign” to drum up Union membership.

“No one went on strike. Basically the companies and people here don’t want to join the Union, so the Union set unrealistic safety standards not even upheld on their own work sites to apply pressure for you to join, then when you join they ‘back off’,” he said.

“The whole report was a smear campaign, the CFMEU said to me three weeks earlier what they would do if the company didn’t join and they did exactly that.”

Due to the old homes that once stood on the Badgerys Creek site, a large amount of the soil is contaminated with asbestos.

“We walked away from the CFMEU, we have air monitoring everywhere, you have no idea how safe this place is to work,” Mr Ritchie said.

Safework NSW confirmed the handling of material containing asbestos on the Western Sydney Airport construction site is in line with Work Health and Safety Regulations.

A Western Sydney Airport spokesperson said workers and community safety is their highest priority.

“Air quality and dust monitoring is conducted each day around material stockpiles and on haulage trucks to ensure worker and community safety, as well as compliance with environmental regulations,” the spokesperson said.

“Independent inspectors accredited by the NSW Environmental Protection Authority, along with SafeWork NSW, have attended the site on a number of occasions to inspect safety practices and have found no issues in relation to asbestos management.”

The Weekender contacted the CMFEU for a comment but they did not respond.

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