It can be tough to spend a penny in an era of government cuts which have brought about the closure of so many public toilets.
Toilet breaks are no laughing matter; rather they are a basic necessity. Yet for the UK’s 300,000 truck drivers getting access to decent loos is a lottery.
Unite’s truck driver members regularly report serious failings by employers when it comes to facilities.
Among the many gripes are filthy loos, no running water, no lockable cubicles, no soap or toilet roll in facilities provided by employers and public conveniences.
In some cases access to toilets is denied altogether.
Unite has mounted a strong campaign for improved welfare provision in all workplaces given that lack of access to adequate welfare facilities at work within a reasonable time is likely to impact on workers’ safety and their physical and mental health.
The union has now successfully lobbied transport minister Andrew Jones, who’s agreed to establish an industry wide group to consider solutions to this issue and winder concerns around driver shortage and recruitment.
“Things as they stand are not good enough,” said Unite national officer Adrian Jones. “Too often what we are seeing is humiliating and degrading – not to mention a public health hazard.
“Changes which mean developers must invest in infrastructure for drivers will make a huge difference. It’s about time government and local councils considered the drivers’ needs as well as those of profit hungry developers.”
“We are encouraged that the minister was responsive to our requests and hope to make real advances in the future,” Jones added. “We want all workers to be treated fairly and with dignity when they need to carry out this most basic human need when they are at work. We call on employers to provide decent toilet and washing facilities as a right for all truck drivers.
“Unite welcomes the pledge from the minister to establish a forum where our members voices can be heard,” Unite’s national health & safety committee chair Tony Lewington.
“No one should be expected to be denied access to toilets and welfare facilities in the 21st century,” he said. “Our driver members are professional and should be treated as such by employers and government. Unite will continue to fight for proper toilets and lorry parks so our members health is looked after just as much as their safety.”
The union has also requested changes to planning rules so the new developments of distribution parks must have facilities for drivers. Unite is calling for a clear quality standard for truckstops and lorry parks to ensure the best possible standard of facilities.