Unite the union is demanding that employers take action to ensure that workers are granted toilet dignity in the workplace.

Unite believes that tens of thousands of workers in the UK either are not provided with decent toilets or have undue, unnecessary or officious restrictions placed on them when they attempt to use the facilities provided.

Workers denied toilet dignity

Examples discovered by Unite where toilet dignity is denied include: bank workers being required to urinate in a bucket, no female toilets being provided on construction sites and bus drivers not being allowed a break for over five hours at a time.

The sectors where Unite has identified problems where workers are often denied toilet dignity include: banking, bus driving, construction, finance, lorry driving, warehousing and agriculture.

Unite has also found that women in particular are denied toilet dignity, especially when they are on their period. Unite launched a period dignity campaign in September and the campaign is now being extended to sectors such as construction and passenger transport where there are additional challenges.

Health Implications

Having to continually hold on to use a toilet has wide ranging health implications which include: urinary tract infections, damage to the bladder and the bowel and can cause toxins to build up in the body.

Unite is highlighting the problems experienced by workers today (19 November) as it is World Toilet Day. Although much of the emphasis on this day is about providing clean toilets in the developing world, Unite believes that a spotlight needs to be shone on the problems experienced by many UK workers on a daily basis.

Employers have a clear duty to provide decent toilets and washing facilities as part of the Welfare (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, with separate regulations applying to the construction industry. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) administers these regulations and while it has the power to take legal action this rarely occurs.

Simply disgraceful

Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “It is simply disgraceful that in 2018 tens of thousands of UK workers are denied toilet dignity at work.

“The examples that Unite has revealed are simply staggering and it is clearly deeply humiliating for the workers who are being denied toilet dignity.

“Employers have got absolutely no excuse for ensuring toilet dignity and if they fail to do so they should be prosecuted by the HSE.

“Unite will not be passive on this issue, if workers are denied toilet dignity we will name and shame the guilty parties.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

Examples of Unite members being denied toilet dignity include:

1. Fuel tank drivers who have to remain within sight of their vehicles at all times, being forced to urinate in bushes as no toilets are provided where they make deliveries.

2. In a small bank branch, only male workers were recruited and then a bucket placed in an adjacent room to cut down the time workers were away from serving customers.

3. A bank worker with serious health issues was informed their toilet was in a nearby shop which they were unable to reach in time.

4. A female construction worker reported that the women’s toilets are locked on her construction site and then having to ask male colleagues for the key. Then when the key is obtained discovering the toilet is being used for storage.

5. Workers in many financial call centres report that they have to log in and out when they go to the toilet.

6. A worker being informed that their toilet breaks do not meet company “efficiencies” and referred to occupational health. Then informed that they have to take the time they take for toilet breaks from the time allocated for lunch.

7. On construction sites there no female toilets just unisex ones which are usually in a disgusting condition.

For more information please contact Unite communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235.

Email: barckley.sumner@unitetheunion.org

Unite represents workers in Britain and Ireland with members across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.