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Back to Toilet breaks

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Britain: Commercial drivers win the right to spend a penny

Britain: Too few school toilets add up to sickness

Britain: Lorry drivers need better loos

Britain: Amazon drivers forced to use vans as toilets

Britain: Call for independent inquiry into Crossrail ‘abuses’

Britain: MPs to investigate Asos working conditions

Britain: Crossrail builders face two-mile trek to the toilet

Britain: Rail workers stand up for toilet breaks

USA: Toilet breaks blocked by chicken firms

Britain: Bus drivers strike over unsafe timetables

Britain: Stretched ASOS workers forced to pee in water stations

Britain: Unite calls for respect for toilet breaks

USA: Chicken processor strained wrists and bladders

Thailand: Nappy-wearing bus conductors fight for rights

Britain: Workers left with no place to go

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

Britain: Golden toilet bid to flush out breaks pay

Britain: Bus 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!

Britain: Free-to-pee win in women's toilet campaign

Britain: AA wrong on pee and tea breaks

USA: Ford in “incredibly stupid” toilet crackdown

Britain: No pee for parking attendant

Union outrage at Pee&O breaks ban

Bus driver fights for toilet breaks

Workers "forced to pay for toilet breaks"

Fired if you pee, fired if you don't

Bursting bus drivers told to wait and wee

Call centre stink over time off in loo

Supermarket cashiers canít check out for loo breaks

Jaguar attacks toilet breaks

Guard secures workplace toilet breaks

Piss off

Personnel backing

Ship workers say no, no, no

Dirty business uncovered on site

Union no go on no go policy

Pregnant worker fired over toilet breaks

Firm docks workers wages for loo breaks

Pee is for organising

Safety watchdog sniffs out bad washrooms

TOILET BREAKS: CASE HISTORIES


Britain: Commercial drivers win the right to spend a penny
Transport union Unite has won a long–running campaign giving delivery drivers the right to use the toilets at a business where they are making deliveries. Thanks to the union-secured deal, 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.
Unite news release and Better loos 4U campaign. More on toilet breaks. Risks 825.
Hazard news, 11 November 2017

Britain: Too few school toilets add up to sickness
A lack of staff toilets is leading to bowel problems and urinary infections in school staff, teaching union ATL has said. The union’s conference heard that at some schools, teachers were having to share facilities with pupils. Others were being forced to trek to distant buildings and stand in loo queues during breaks.
Morning Star. Risks 796
Hazards news, 22 April 2017

Britain: Lorry drivers need better loos
Lorry drivers are not being provided with adequate toilet facilities, their union Unite has said. The union is calling on the government to introduce a legally-binding code of practice so that hundreds of thousands of lorry drivers have adequate parking and eating facilities, decent showers and toilets when they are travelling across the UK for up to five-days-at-a-time.
Unite news release. Transport minister John Hayes’ written statement, 20 December 2017. Risks 782.
Hazards news, 7 January 2017

Britain: Amazon drivers forced to use vans as toilets
Amazon delivery drivers regularly work illegal hours, with time pressures so extreme some are forced speed and to urinate and defecate in their vans, a BBC investigation has claimed. Drivers for agencies contracted by the e-commerce giant told an undercover reporter they were expected to deliver up to 200 Amazon parcels a day.
BBC Inside Out special. BBC News Online. The Independent. Risks 777
Hazards news, 19 November 2016

Britain: Call for independent inquiry into Crossrail ‘abuses’
Construction union UCATT is calling for an urgent independent inquiry into ‘safety and workplace abuses’ on the Crossrail tunnelling contract being undertaken by contractor ATC, a consortium involving Alstom, TSO and Costain. The union says its members working on the Crossrail tunnelling contract say ATC management are employing ‘intimidatory’ working practices.
UCATT news release. Risks 772
Hazards news, 15 October 2016

Britain: MPs to investigate Asos working conditions
Fashion retailer Asos is to face a parliamentary probe after an approach from the union GMB. The decision came in the wake of an investigative report that revealed Asos has subjected 4,000 workers to a brutal management regime at its huge Yorkshire warehouse.
GMB news release. Buzzfeed news update and report, The real cost of Asos’s fast fashion. BBC News Online. Morning Star. Risks 771
Hazards news, 8 October 2016

Britain: Crossrail builders face two-mile trek to the toilet
Crossrail workers have criticised site welfare conditions after having to walk two miles to use a toilet. Union members protested outside the Crossrail site over a range of concerns, including ‘appalling’ welfare facilities and a misfiring fingerprint recognition system.
UCATT news release. Construction Enquirer. Morning Star. Risks 770
Hazards news, 1 October 2016.

Britain: Rail workers stand up for toilet breaks
Rail workers took ‘rock solid’ strike action on two London Underground lines in September over ‘timed’ toilet breaks. RMT members on the Hammersmith & City and Circle lines walked out for 24 hours after what their union described as a ‘flagrant disregard for agreed policies and procedures’.
RMT news release. Morning Star. London Evening Standard. More on toilet breaks. Risks 679.
Hazards news, 24 September 2016.

USA: Toilet breaks blocked by chicken firms
Workers in America’s poultry plants are being routinely denied bathroom breaks, research by Oxfam America has found. Its report, ‘No relief’, is based on months of research and exposes how poultry workers are forced “to urinate and defecate while standing on the line; they wear diapers [nappies] to work; they restrict intake of liquids and fluids to dangerous degrees; they endure pain and discomfort while they worry about their health and job security.”
Oxfam America news release and report, No relief: Denial of bathroom breaks in the poultry industry, May 2015. Washington Post. Bloomberg. Fox News. Risks 751.
Hazards news, 21 May 2016

Britain: Bus drivers strike over unsafe timetables
Over 200 Arriva bus drivers in Kent have taken two days of strike action over the introduction of unachievable, fatigue-inducing and unsafe timetables. Their union Unite has said drivers are being kept at the wheel for five and a half hours at a time with as little as four minutes ‘recovery’ time and limited access to toilet facilities.
Unite news release. Kent Messenger. Risks 732.
Hazards news, 12 December 2015

Britain: Stretched ASOS workers forced to pee in water stations
Breakneck work rates required at the Barnsley distribution depot of the online retailer ASOS are so hard to achieve that employees are sometimes forced to urinate in nearby water stations rather than make the trip to the loo, their union has said. GMB said pressure to maintain ‘pick rates’ meant some staff did not have the time to make the 15 minute return walk to the toilets.
GMB news release. Risks 720.
Hazards news, 19 September 2015

Britain: Unite calls for respect for toilet breaks
Too many workers are facing difficulty getting a toilet break at work, research by Unite has found. The union has published a 10-point action checklist for Unite safety reps, with recommendations including that toilet and washing facilities form part of regular safety inspections, members be encouraged to report problems and ensuring that agreements and health and safety policies provide for paid rest breaks, toilet breaks, provision of suitable welfare facilities and easy access to them during the working day.
Unite toilet breaks campaign. Hazards toilet breaks webpages. Risks 716
Hazards news, 22 August 2015

USA: Chicken processor strained wrists and bladders
A chicken processing firm in the US enforced limb-crippling line speeds and didn’t like its workers leaving the line, even to go to the toilet. The Allen Harim Foods plant in Harbeson, Delaware, was cited by the Labor Department’s safety regulator OSHA for nine violations, with the proposed penalties totalling $38,000.
OSHA news release. The Pump Handle. Center for Progressive Reform blog. Risks 709
Hazards news, 4 July 2015

Thailand: Nappy-wearing bus conductors fight for rights
Stuck for hours each day in snarling traffic, bus conductors in Thailand’s sprawling capital have found a radical solution to a lack of toilet breaks - adult nappies. A recent survey found that 28 per cent of female bus conductors in Bangkok had worn nappies on a job that requires them to work up to 16 hours a day.
Gulf NewsRisks 657
Hazards news, 7 June 2014

Britain: Workers left with no place to go
Council cuts to public conveniences are leaving workers with no place to go, the public sector union UNISON has warned. It says workers suffering from too few loos include paramedics, transport workers, police community support officers, postal workers and bin men who spend their working day out and about.
UNISON news releaseIOSH news reportRisks 619
Hazards news, 24 August 2013

Britain: Site walkout wins better welfare facilities
Construction workers at Runcorn thermal power station have secured improved toilet and welfare facilities on site after a week long snap strike. The 800 plus workers had walked out in protest at what they considered inadequate toilet and canteen facilities. Unite news releaseMorning StarRisks 590
Hazards news, 26 January 2013

Britain: Window firm failed welfare test
A London window manufacturer has been prosecuted for ignoring two improvement notices requiring the firm to bring employee welfare facilities up to a clean and hygienic standard. City of London Magistrates' Court heard that on 20 May 2010, at a routine inspection of the TLC Glazing Ltd factory, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the toilets were very dirty, with no supply of hot water, no soap for hand washing and no means of hand drying.
HSE news releaseRisks 490
Hazards news, 22 January 2011

Britain: Union condemns use of no toilet trains
“Greedy money-grabbing” bosses on Southern Railways have been branded a “disgrace” by the rail union RMT after it emerged some of its expanded fleet will have no toilets on board. RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “It doesn't take a genius to work out that, if you close on-train toilets, some people will take matters into their own hands turning the carriages into stinking cattle trucks and creating appalling conditions for both passengers and staff.”
BBC News OnlineMorning StarThe TelegraphRisks 475
Hazards news, 25 September 2010

Britain: Workers caught short on toilet breaks
Many of us are being short-changed by our employers when it comes to the call of nature. A study by the Labour Research Department (LRD) has found many British workers are suffering because of inadequate toilet facilities and restrictive toilet break rules.
LRD news releaseBBC News OnlineRisks 462
Hazards news, 26 June 2010

Britain: Contractor fined for failing to provide toilets
A Bridlington building firm boss has been fined for not providing adequate toilet and washing facilities for staff on a construction site. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Bryan Ellis Brown, a partner in Bryan Brown & Son, of Flamborough, Bridlington, after finding problems on the site on 23 July 2009 which the firm then failed to remedy.
HSE news releaseRisks 447
Hazards news, 13 March 2010

Britain: Hands up for toilet breaks at work
Employers should not be able to penalise staff for using the toilet in work time and should provide decent, clean lavatories, the TUC has said. The union body is calling for a change in the law to bring workplace loos into the 21st century.
TUC news releaseRisks 447
Hazards news, 13 March 2010

Britain: Meat firm docks wages for loo breaks
Workers at a Lancashire meat firm are outraged at their employer’s toilet break policy which stops their pay every time they visit the loo. Unite, which represents workers at the Dunbia a meat processing plant, says workers are being forced to take unpaid toilet breaks during work time.
Unite news release • Risks 432
Hazards news,  14 November 2009

Australia: Union dumps toilet diaries
A requirement on staff at an Australian government call centre to observe a three-minute time limit when using the toilet and to keep diary entries of how long they spent in the bathroom has been dumped after union pressure. Managers at the Medicare Australia call centre were even following staff into bathrooms to hurry them along, workers said.
CPSU news releaseNews.com.auRisks 428
Hazards news, 17 October 2009

Britain: Train drivers forced to pee in a bottle
Staff toilet facilities are so poor on some parts of the rail network, train drivers are forced to urinate in plastic bottles. Inability to go to the loo for long periods is linked to a range of chronic health problems.
ASLEF online articleRisks 411
Hazards news, 20 June 2009

Britain: London cabbies protest at toilet rip-off
London taxi drivers picketed Westminster City Council for an hour on Wednesday 20 May over “rip-off” parking charges which are forcing them to spend up to £3 just to use the toilet.
RMT news releaseHazards toilet breaks webpagesRisks 407
Hazards news, 23 May 2009

Britain: Golden toilet bid to flush out breaks pay
An MP is backing a union campaign for paid toilet breaks at a Scottish meat firm supplying the supermarket chain Tesco. Workers at Brown Brothers in Kirkconnel are forced to take unpaid lavatory breaks - a policy that has been condemned by Labour MP Russell Brown and the union Unite as unacceptable.
Guidance on toilet breaksRisks 363
Hazards news, 5 July 2008

Britain: Workers make a stink over loo breaks
A meat company supplying Tesco has been accused of “Dickensian employment practices” by making workers clock off when they go the toilet. The union Unite is now calling on Tesco to intervene to stamp out the practise at Dumfriesshire-based Brown Brothers.
BBC News OnlineHazards magazine toilet breaks webpagesRisks 362
Hazards news, 28 June 2008

Britain: Bus drivers relieved at more toilets
Bus drivers are relieved authorities have agreed to speed-up the introduction of toilets along London's bus routes. Unite organiser, Peter Kavanagh, said “significant extra resource” had been agreed to combat what was “a very serious problem.”
This is local LondonTUC/Hazards toilet breaks campaign
Hazards news, 1 September 2007

Britain: Company films toilets on the job
The union UNITE has told a firm it must remove CCTV cameras after they were discovered filming workers in the factory's toilet blocks. ThyssenKrupp Automotive (TKA) Tallent Chassis, in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, was accused of a “horrendous breach of employee privacy.”

Northern EchoHazards workplace privacy webpages and toilet breaks webpages
Hazards news, 25 August 2007

Britain: Bus workers demand respect and toilets
London’s bus workers took to the streets of the capital on 23 August to demand proper toilet facilities on bus routes and at their workplaces – and immediately won support from the mayor of London. The workers, members of Unite, are threatening a full strike ballot if Transport for London (TfL) and London’s local authorities don’t unblock planning obstacles and speed up action to provide facilities.
Unite news releaseBBC News Online

Britain: Give us toilets or prepare for a sitdown strike!
London's bus workers are to stage a series of protests at key London transport and local government offices on Thursday 23 August to protest at the lack of toilet facilities. The campaign has taken a new turn with the capital's bus workers, all members of the TGWU section of Unite, threatening a full strike ballot if Transport for London (TfL) and London's local authorities don't act.
Unite news releaseTUC/Hazards toilet breaks campaign
Hazards news, 4 August 2007

Britain: Free-to-pee win in women's toilet campaign
Women truck drivers who use the port of Folkestone are celebrating a breakthrough this week in their worldwide ‘Free to Pee’ campaign. Following pressure from transport union TGWU, the harbour master at the cross channel port has announced the opening of a women's toilet.
Risks 244, 18 February 2006

Britain: AA wrong on pee and tea breaks
Call centre workers employed by the car recovery giant AA say the firm must come clean on toilet and other breaks. Paul Maloney, GMB senior organiser said: Adults in the AA call centres have to put up their hands like schoolchildren to get time to get a drink of water or to visit the toilet.”
Risks 232, 12 November 2005

USA: Ford in “incredibly stupid” toilet crackdown
You know things are tense at work when management starts timing rest room breaks. But Ford Motor Co is doing just that.
Risks 231, 5 November 2005

Britain: No pee for parking attendant
A parking attendant has been suspended for going to the toilet. The GMB member, employed by APCOA and who works in Kensington and Chelsea, has been barred from work since 29 July and is facing disciplinary action.
Risks 220, 20 August 2005

Australia: Union outrage at Pee&O breaks ban
A UK-registered company which forced Australian call centre workers to carry a "pee pole" to signify they're going to the toilet has responded to staff protests by banning all breaks.
Risks 184, 27 November 2004

Britain
Bus driver fights for toilet breaks
An ex-bus driver whose health was ruined by the lack of toilets on bus routes, is taking his former employer to the European Court of Human Rights. Arthur Martin, who worked for First Bus, had to have surgery to remove half his prostate, a problem doctors say had been caused by being denied loo breaks for long periods.
Risks 149, 27 March 2004

Britain
Workers "forced to pay for toilet breaks"
Factory workers at TTems in Blyth have been told by bosses they will have to pay back wages for the time they spend on visits to the toilet and cigarette breaks.
Risks 147, 13 March 2004

USA
Fired if you pee, fired if you don't
Workers suffering from paruresis or shy bladder syndrome are being fired as a result. Drug test happy US employers a treating failure to provide a urine sample as a refusal to submit to a drug test.
Risks 143, 14 February 2004

Australia
Bursting bus drivers told to wait and wee

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.

Risks 138, 10 January 2004

 

AUSTRALIA: Call centre stink over time off in loo

Employees at a company owned by Australia's second biggest telecoms company say their bosses have ordered them to record as "personal time" the amount of time they spend in the toilet. More than 60 workers at an RSL COM call centre are being forced to time themselves going to the toilet and make up the time at the end of the day or risk losing pay.

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.

Workers OnlineRisks 120, 23 August 2003

 

Supermarket cashiers canít check out for loo breaks

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.

Risks 118, 9 August 2003

 

Jaguar attacks toilet breaks

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."

Risks 115, 19 July 2003

 

BRITAIN
Guard secures workplace toilet breaks

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.

Risks 110, 14 June 2003

 

AUSTRALIA
The ultimate piss off

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.

Workers Onliine, 2 May 2003

BRITAIN
This time itís personnel

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."

Risks 99, 29 March 2003

USA
Ship workers say no, no, no to a bottle of pee

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.

The US Navy moved 2,500 sailors onto the ship in the autumn, slowing down the last-minute yard work and placing most of the restrooms off-limits to shipyard workers. "You're not going to pee in your pants, you're going to find some place to go to the bathroom," said Jim Scull, chair of the health and safety committee for the United Steelworkers of America's (USWA) Local 8888.

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.

Risks 97, 15 March 2003

BRITAIN
Investigation uncovers dirty business on site

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."

Risks 96, 8 March 2003

 

USA
Union no go on no go policy

The union at bourbon maker Jim Beam has won a reversal of its policy of limiting bathroom breaks for workers at a Kentucky distillery (Risks 69).

The rules – and disciplinary measures used to enforce them - outraged workers, some of whom said they’d 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."

WNBC News



AUSTRALIA
Pregnant worker fired over toilet breaks

The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) said workers employed by TeleTech, US-owned and one of the world's largest call centre companies, were owed thousands of dollars in unpaid wages and had also been bullied and dismissed for taking sick leave.

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.

Risks 71, 14 September 2002
ACTU's Call Central campaign - the site includes safety guidance




BRITAIN
Firm docks workers wages for toilet breaks

Mean meat factory bosses are docking £1,000 a week from their workers' wages for the time they spend in the loo.

Almost 200 staff at the Brown Brothers' factory in Kirkconnell, Scotland have been issued with smart cards which deduct their pay for the time they're away from the factory floor.

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.

Risks 88, 11 January 2003

 

BRITAIN
Pee is for organising

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



BRITAIN
Safety watchdog sniffs out bad washrooms




Decent washing facilities are vital in preventing occupational dermatitis and are an absolute legal duty. Would you use these?


This sink is unusable and illustrates a basic lack of regard for the health and welfare of the construction workers on site
Above, welfare facilities uncovered in a 2002 UK construction sites safety blitz conducted by the
Health and Safety Executive
.



HAZARDS MAGAZINE   •  WORKERS' HEALTH INTERNATIONAL NEWS