Bristol council workers are being forced to quit their jobs because they are being denied access to toilets.
Unite warned today (18 April) that the council’s decision to close the vast majority of public conveniences has left bus drivers, street cleaners and refuse collectors with inadequate access to toilet facilities.
The union has learned that some staff with medical conditions have had to leave their roles because of the closures.
Bristol’s public toilets were shuttered last year as part of a contentious money saving scheme, with the council asking businesses such a pubs, cafes and shops to provide free access to their toilets for non-customers instead.
Unite has found that the scheme is not effective for key workers who keep the city operating.
Members report that the scheme is either not operating in areas where they need to use the facilities or they have been asked not to enter businesses to use the toilet due to their work clothes.
Bus drivers in the city are frequently required to work a five and half hour shift without access to a toilet during that time.
Unite is now calling on the council to take proper action to ensure that all companies providing services in the city, including bus operators and waste management services, are ensuring that their workers experience toilet dignity.
Unite regional officer Malcolm Green said, “Bristol’s toilet scheme is failing workers who keep the city of Bristol clean and moving. The council needs to take firm leadership to ensure these workers are not being routinely denied toilet dignity.
“The lack of toilet provision has resulted in workers with medical conditions being forced to quit their jobs.
“Workers report being humiliated when they are asked not to use the so-called community toilets due to their work clothes.
“In the 21st century it is not too much to ensure that workers are not denied toilet dignity at work.”
Workers are denied toilet dignity if they are not provided with a clean toilet with hot and cold running water (including mobile workers such as bus drivers, refuse collectors and lorry drivers) or workers are monitored or have to ask permission to use the toilet.
The lack of toilet provision and being forced to ‘hold on’ can have serious health consequences for workers.
Unite is campaigning for decent toilet and washing facilities as a right for all workers.
You can alert the union to substandard toilet facilities at your workplace here.