A COUNCIL worker is accusing his bosses of putting lives in danger by continuing to use a weedkiller at the centre of a cancer lawsuit.

Gardener and shop steward Stuart Graham has demanded Inverclyde Council reconsiders its decision to spray Roundup, which contains glyphosate, in playparks, schools and open spaces.

He warns that bosses could be exposing their own workers to harm by using the chemical spray.

The Greenock man has been raising the issue for a number of years and is petitioning Environment Secretary Michael Gove for a ban.

Unite shop steward Mr Graham, from Kirkwall Road in Branchton, works for the ground maintenance team.

He said: "I have been raising this repeatedly for about four years.

"We are sent in teams of two to spray the weed killer about three times a year in open spaces.

"It is used everywhere.

"It saves the council thousands of pounds every year in manpower.

"But health should be more important than anything.

"They keep saying it is safe.

"But warning about smoking was ignored at one time, and just look at asbestos and the problems it can cause."

Last week a jury in the United States ruled that the use of the product has contributed to causing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in a Californian man.

The verdict follows another payout in the same state last year.

Product owners Bayer are appealing.

Inverclyde Council chiefs say they brought the manufacturer in for safety talks following Mr Graham's concerns.

But Stuart, 47, who is the local Unite health and safety rep, said: "At a recent presentation to workers from a sales rep, we were advised to wear gloves when mixing and to wash gloves inside and outside after use.

"This surely highlights potential toxicity if you have to wash inside?

"We were also told to use Roundup/glyphosate less around play areas and open spaces.

"Why would they say that if it was safe?"

Stuart says that his investigations show that other local authorities in Scotland, including Aberdeen and Edinburgh, are considering restrictions while the product is banned or restricted in some countries.

He added: "If they stopped using the weedkiller I would be back in big squads and it would be much harder work for us.

"But health is more important.

"When I have spoken to the council they say that the cases in the States are extreme but one of the guys worked in a school and the other was spraying in his own garden."

Councillor Colin Jackson is backing concerns raised by the union shop steward.

He said: "Where there is a concern over the safety of a product, there should be a moratorium on its use until such times as it is proven otherwise.

"We have to protect our workers, that is a top priority."

There are currently around 11,200 legal cases against the owners of Roundup where users of it have developed cancer.

A spokesman for Inverclyde Council said: “We have a duty of care to our staff which we take very seriously.

"We follow all the relevant health and safety legislation to ensure that our employees are safe at work and safe doing their work."

The council says it uses herbicides to control weeds and that staff must hold relevant qualifications to use them.

Their spokesman added: "These are applied in line with the licences issued by the European Commission and with the manufacturers’ guidelines. "We also follow the Health & Safety Executive’s guidance on using products which contain glyphosate.

"If the official advice about this type of product changes we will makes sure our practices continue to comply with all relevant legislation.

“The European Chemicals Agency and the European Food Safety Authority have both stated that there is no evidence to link glyphosate to cancer in humans.

"We have passed this information on to the local trade union representatives.

"Our use of herbicides is carefully regulated, follows all safety guidelines and is carried out by trained staff using specialist equipment.

“The two legal cases currently under way in America focus on ‘extreme exposure’ to RoundUp.

"Neither of these cases have yet reached a conclusion.”