5 July 2019

Following a series of significant US court cases awarding compensation to workers who developed cancer after being exposed to the weedkiller Roundup, gardeners working for the Blacktown City Council expressed their concerns. The council demanded they continue working with the potential carcinogen, and threatened to sack anyone who refused. More than 500 workers took the correct action — they went on strike demanding a more reasonable response, given that other councils have banned the product and their concerns are not unwarranted: “The World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer says it ‘probably’ causes cancer.“ To resolve the dispute, Blacktown agreed to try a different product that does not include the suspect chemical. This shows the power of workers standing together and withdrawing their labour to achieve reasonable improvements in workplace safety — but in Australia this strike was illegal and the workers now risk being prosecuted by the Fair Work Ombudsman.