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UK transport workers ‘denied toilet dignity’

Toilet access is 'routinely denied' for UK transport workers, says Unite

Research by the Unite union has found that workers in the transport sector are being routinely denied access to toilets, creating health issues and in some cases forcing workers to leave their jobs.

Released to coincide with World Toilet Day (19 November), the survey of nearly 5000 bus drivers – all member of Unite – found that 83% are ‘not supplied with a list of toilet facilities or a map, should the need arise on routes’.

The lack of accessible facilities on a route is particularly important as shifts for bus drivers are regularly five and half hours long before breaks, forcing drivers to wait, causing serious health issues. This can result in drivers becoming distracted and losing concentration while driving.

A separate survey of more than 4000 lorry drivers also identified a major issue with toilet access and the chronic lack of truck stops that forces drivers to sleep in lay-bys. The question ‘when sleeping at a lay-by are you able to easily access toilet and washroom facilities?’ resulted in 89% of respondents replying that they rarely or never had access to such facilities.

Diana Holland, Unite’s Assistant General Secretary, said: “Transport workers the length and breadth of the UK are being denied toilet dignity on a daily basis. Unite is using the opportunity of World Toilet Day to highlight this public health problem and this year’s slogan of ‘no one being left behind’ is particularly apt as transport workers are definitely being left behind when it comes to toilet dignity.

“The lack of access to toilets is simply intolerable and can and does result in our members developing severe health problems and in some cases being forced to quit their jobs due to medical conditions.

“This is an issue for all transport workers, but a lack of access to toilets for women when they have their period or are going through the menopause, or facilities where they risk abuse or sexual harassment, are more barriers faced by women working in this sector where they are already underrepresented.

“Employers have a clear legal duty to provide adequate toilets for their workers and Unite will be ensuring that those duties are met.

“No workers should be denied toilet dignity by either not having decent facilities or by not being able to freely access them. That is why Unite supports the global transport workers sanitation charter being launched for this World Toilet Day and we are calling on all employers to sign up and make a difference.”

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