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‘No excuse’

Unite accuses Buy It Direct of denying delivery drivers toilet dignity
Hajera Blagg, Thursday, January 31st, 2019

Unite has ‘named and shamed’ online retailer Buy It Direct for flouting the law by denying delivery drivers access to decent toilet facilities.


Unite members undertaking deliveries at a Buy It Direct warehouse in Leeds have reported that they are being forced to use a portaloo with no washing facilities after management has barred them from using the building’s standard toilets.


One Unite member said that when he raised the issue with a manager, the manager said that the portaloo was suitable because “it was emptied every three days”.


Unite has accused the firm of flouting regulations that came into force last year thanks to lobbying from Unite, which allow delivery drivers to use an employer’s toilets while conducting deliveries. Employers in control of non-domestic premises are now obliged to allow people who are not their employees but use their premises to access toilets and washing facilities.


The change in the regulations ostensibly ended the problem of drivers having to go to the toilet behind bushes, or have to continually ‘hold on’ due to being denied access to toilet facilities – but, like Buy It Direct, some firms are choosing to ignore the law.


In addition to publicly naming and shaming Buy It Direct, the union has reported the company to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).


“There is no excuse for Buy it Direct to be denying drivers proper access to toilet facilities,” said Unite national officer Adrian Jones.


“The company has welfare facilities but a manager is wrongly making arbitrary decisions about who can and cannot use them,” he added. “Buy It Direct needs to take immediate action to comply with the law.


“A portaloo without washing facilities is both unsanitary and in direct contravention of the HSE’s welfare regulations,” Jones warned.


Unite has highlighted the latest instance of drivers being denied decent toilet access as part of its Toilet Dignity campaign launched last year in response to toilet access issues that have become prevalent in virtually all sectors.


One fuel tank driver told Unite how, as part of his job, he must remain within sight of his vehicles at all times.


“Where I make deliveries there are no loos,” he said. “I’m forced to go in the bushes.”


Another bank worker who suffers from serious health issues explained that there is no toilet in the branch where she works.


“We were told to use one in a nearby shop, which I didn’t get to in time,” she said.


Another worker recounted how he was told that toilet breaks ‘did not meet company efficiencies’ – and was then sent to occupational health.


“I was then told I’d have to take any toilet break out of my lunch time,” he said.


A female construction worker highlighted the problems she faces as a woman in a male-dominated sector.


“I needed to go and found the women’s toilets on-site were locked,” she said. “I had to ask a male colleague for the key. When I got the key at last I found my loo was being used as a storage room.”


Commenting on Buy It Direct, Adrian Jones warned that the firm is not the only employer failing to implement the HSE’s welfare provisions for drivers and other visitors to their premises.


“Where these companies are identified Unite will take action to ensure our members receive toilet dignity,” he asserted.


“If drivers and other workers are denied toilet dignity it is important to complain and report the issue. Unite is committed to ensure that the regulations are fully complied with.”


Find out more about Unite’s Toilet dignity campaign in the video below:


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