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Britain: Site walkout wins better welfare facilities
Britain: Window firm failed welfare test
Britain: Union condemns use of no toilet trains
Britain: Workers caught short on toilet breaks
Britain: Contractor fined for failing to provide toilets
Britain: Hands up for toilet breaks at work
Britain: Meat firm docks wages for loo breaks
Australia: Union dumps toilet diaries
Britain: Train drivers forced to pee in a bottle
Britain: London cabbies protest at toilet rip-off
toilet bid to flush out breaks pay
make a stink over loo breaks
drivers relieved at more toilets
Britain: Company films
toilets on the job
Britain: Bus workers
demand respect and toilets
Britain: Give us
toilets or prepare for a sitdown strike!
Free-to-pee win in women's toilet campaign
AA wrong on pee and tea breaks
Ford in “incredibly stupid” toilet crackdown
No pee for parking attendant
Union outrage at Pee&O breaks ban
Bus drivers in Australia are piddling in bottles, buckets or at the road side because of a chronic lack of toilets.
Drivers in New South Wales say this is an industry wide problem and that operators and the government are failing to address a serious health issue.
Former bus driver and Transport Workers Union organiser Mick Pieri said: "The drivers have to hang on for hours on end. A lot of time when you need to go to the loo you have to go through passengers just to get to the toilet. The passengers can be irate because the bus is running late."
Pieri says the issue is about more than just toilets. "We need facilities with hot and cold running water, proper meal rooms, proper amenities."
He suspects that being forced to hold off going to the toilet on a regular basis could be linked to a high incidence of prostate problems among bus drivers.
TUC launched its own "gotta go!" campaign last year after Hazards magazine revealed UK workers were routinely being denied loo breaks and were at risk of a range of health problems as a result.
AUSTRALIA: Call centre stink
over time off in loo
Members of the union CEPU have now started a "low key" campaign to end what they describe as harassment, excessive surveillance and monitoring over toilet breaks.
"We are disgusted by this over-the-top behaviour by management," said Alice Salomon, CEPU branch organiser.
"It is demeaning for grown adults to be treated like school kids and have to account for the time taken to go to the toiletÖManagers are spending more time on monitoring toilet breaks than it actually takes to use the bathroom." She added the policy could force workers to forgo loo breaks, which could lead to serious health problems.
Supermarket cashiers in Argentina are being forced to wear nappies (diapers) because they canít take toilet breaks at work, a union official said.
Female cashiers in western Mendoza province must wear adult nappies in case 'cold, nerves, pressure or stress' provoke incontinence, union official Jorge Cordova told local news agency Diarios y Noticias.
Cordova refused to name the supermarket, but he did say the chain is backed by foreign capital, said Sandra Varela, Mendoza's labour subsecretary. "The truth is, it's difficult to imagine a line of 20 adult cashiers wearing diapers for eight hours," said Varela, who is investigating the matter. "In 17 years as a labour lawyer, I've never heard anything like this before."
TUC has highlighted widespread loo breaks abuse in the UK, and is calling for a legal right for workers to take a toilet break. Earlier this year GMB member Gavin Ruddick won an employment tribunal after his employer said the security guard could not take any breaks during a 12-hour shift.
Luxury car-maker Jaguar has come under fire from workers after slamming the lid on toilet breaks. Paint shop workers have told by personnel chiefs at the Castle Bromwich plant they should not go to the toilet during working time.
The loo breaks embargo started with a written briefing from the companyís Employee Relations Department, whose "bell-to-bell" edict says workers must seek permission from their supervisor if they need to leave the track for any reason.
The briefing warns that anyone failing to comply could end up facing disciplinary action. It says: "All employees should endeavour to deal with issues during their break times. This includes leaving to go to the toilet. Due to the continuing high absence trend, it is likely that there will be times when delays in releasing people to go to the toilet cannot be avoided."
One worker said: "We canít believe this. People canít go to the toilet by schedule and they are threatening disciplinary action if people need to go outside of break times."
A Tyneside security guard has won a "groundbreaking" victory after claiming his employer would not let him go to the toilet at work. GMB member Gavin Ruddick said Reliance Security Services Ltd told him he could not take any breaks during a 12-hour shift at an office block.
A Newcastle employment tribunal ruled that the security industry is not exempt from Working Time Regulations and while it is not subject to the law that requires workers to have a 20 minute rest break every six hours, it must do "the next best thing," such as allow a number of shorter rest periods or one longer period. It stated that if any company were to be as ridiculous as to prevent a security guard from going to the toilet, then it might be guilty of degrading and inhuman treatment under the Human Rights Act.
GMBís Joan Hoggins said: "This is a great result for our members and this will now send a clear message that the security industry does not fall outside the Working Time Directive and they must treat their workers fairly or pay the price. I could not believe that when Gavin approached me, informing me that he was to do a 12 hour shift, he was denied the right of any form of rest breaks." A further hearing will decide compensation.
Wollongong workers on poverty-level wages are losing up to $5,000 (£2,000) for taking toilet breaks, according to the union representing staff at a Stellar call centre. Other employees claim they have lost their bonuses, worth up to $5000 a year, for using sick leave entitlements.
The bonuses are significant to workers earning only $25,000 ($10,000) a year thanks to non-negotiable contracts that have slashed base earnings from the $35,000 (£14,000) paid to Telstra employees before their jobs were outsourced.
Stellar is Australia's largest contract call centre operation, employing more than 2000 people around the country.
The workers' union, CPSU, has launched inspections of Stellar call centres at Wollongong, Hornsby, Adelaide and Robina into suspected breaches of the Workplace Relations Act, and says the workers have been conned into accepting the new contracts.
"We have information that his choice has not been provided," CPSU official Larissa Andelman says. "That these people have not even been told that they have a right to choose."
Andelman says the reported use of bonuses to dissuade people from using their sick leave is a major concern to members. Stellar call centres are understood to have an unusually high number of employees absent on stress leave. Andelman says that annual staff turnover rates are as high as 40 per cent in some of the company's call centres.
Personnel professionals are backing the union campaign for sensible toilet breaks at work.
Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development adviser Diane Sinclair commented: "It is inappropriate for people to have to request to go to the bathroom, unless the nature of the work is that a production line stops or there has to be cover for that person."
She added that employers could be opening themselves up to legal action if they prevent someone from using the toilet when they need to. "Allowing someone to go to the bathroom is a reasonable adjustment under the Disability Discrimination Act," she said, adding if a pregnant woman is only given restricted access, she could also take her employer to court on a discrimination claim.
TUCís Owen Tudor commented that some employers go to greater lengths to monitor toilet trips than it can possibly be worth. "One person told me that in his workplace they had a man who sat by the toilet door with a stopwatch and timed people," he said. "He also used to hand out regulation amounts of toilet paper. That cannot conceivably have been economically worthwhile."
Shipyard workers rushing to complete a US aircraft carrier by 28 March
are raising a stink about a shortage of toilets. Union officials representing
members working on the Ronald Reagan say some yard workers have resorted
to urinating in the corners on the brand-new ship, or in cups, drink bottles
and plastic bags.
Arnold Outlaw, president of USWA Local 8888, said although the company may be meeting the letter of the law by having the bathrooms off the ship, it is sometimes difficult for workers - especially some older workers who need to take diuretics and those with other medical problems - to get off the ship in time: 'If you're working six decks down, it can take more than 10 minutes just to get off the ship,' Outlaw said. 'You don't always know when you're going to get the urge.'
The company, Northrop Grumman, refused to provide additional portable facilities, he said.
Contractors on a Leyton building site are breaking health and safety laws by not providing proper washroom facilities, an investigation by the Waltham Forest Guardian has shown. It says its special investigation into the site has revealed that no hot water is being provided to builders by the Inner London Group and the two loos are rarely useable, a breach of the Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996.
A tip-off to the newspaper from concerned staff led to the investigation, which found just two portable toilets for around 35 to 40 workers. One worker commented: "The portaloos are serviced once a week and they are OK for about two days before they become full and unusable."
Larry Fenttiman, of the Inner London Group, denied the company was in
the wrong. However, a spokesperson for the HSE confirmed it had received
a complaint and the company had been contacted, adding: "We are not satisfied
with what we've been told so it is being contacted again. It will be told
what it is legally expected to do. We will take it further if necessary
and if it fails to comply with the inspectors it is a prosecutable offence."
The rules and disciplinary measures used to enforce them - outraged workers, some of whom said theyd had to pee themselves or face disciplinary action - and drew a citation from the Labor Cabinet, the official enforcement agency, which called the policy illegal.
"I am really glad to hear that they've come to their senses," Jo Anne Kelley of the UFCW union said. Krystal Ditto, who was one violation away from being fired, expressed relief.
"Nobody should have to go to work with that kind of fear," she said.
Rich Reese, top boss at the company, said: "We've listened to the
concerns of our employees and have changed our policy." He added:
We will work with the local union to find a mutually acceptable
solution for managing breaks on the bottling-line."
A pregnant woman had been dismissed for taking too many toilet breaks, while another was sacked because she was in hospital with pneumonia, says the union.
One worker, who feared the sack if he gave his name, said: "We have to go through a turnstile and up a flight of stairs to the toilet in the canteen. One week they took an hour off me, which is £5.28. There are 190 workers here so the company is saving £1,000 a week in wages. The motto among the staff here is: 'Have a break - have a quick crap'."
George Hodge, regional organiser with the Transport and General Workers' Union (TGWU), said: "We have been campaigning constantly to persuade the company to abolish this practice but they have so far refused to budge. Brown Brothers are the only company I have heard of to operate such a policy."
Not getting to the loo when you need to can lead to serious health problems, research has shown.
Advertising staff at Bristol United Press used to have to ask permission to use the toilet at work - until their union started a protest leafleting campaign.
GPMU South West branch organiser Gavin Brooks said: "We received a fantastic response to the leaflet and management have backed down over the issue."
He told GPMU Direct magazine the toilet breaks campaign was just the beginning of an organising drive at the company.
And he has told newspaper staff: "If it is possible for the union to solve a problem just by giving you a leaflet, imagine what you could do if you got your union recognised."
Pee is for organising, Hazards 80, October-December 2002, page 13. Hazards 80 full contents
HAZARDS MAGAZINE WORKERS' HEALTH INTERNATIONAL NEWS