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Survey reveals that nearly one in five construction si...

Survey reveals that nearly one in five construction sites force men and women to share toilets

26 January 2018

A survey of over 3,500 Unite members working in the construction sector has found that many are forced to endure entirely inadequate toilets and washing facilities.

The survey found that on nearly one in five sites (17 per cent) men and women were forced to share toilet as there were no separate facilities for women workers.

In total 18 per cent of respondents’ workplaces did not have adequate toilet facilities. Ten per cent of sites did not supply toilet paper.

Despite construction, invariably involving dirty, hot and physical work over half of respondents (51 per cent) said that their workplace did not have any showers. Even when showers were provided in 16 per cent of cases there were no separate showers for women.

Where showers and toilets were provided there remain issues about their cleanliness. In 3 per cent of cases respondents said that showers and toilets were never cleaned while in 8 per cent of cases they were only cleaned weekly.

Comments from members who replied to the survey included:

  • “There are 30 toilets for 2,500 men you have to queue to use them”
  • “We need more toilets and cleaner toilets with better privacy the toilets one have half doors”
  • “More toilets at workface not a 10-15 minute walk away”
  • “Our shower blocks and toilets are in serious need of updating, the toilets smell and the showers are mouldy”.

The supply of water on sites was also a major concern: 17 per cent did not have drinking water, while 14 per cent did not even supply cold water, 22 per cent of sites did not provide hot water. 

Respondents also expressed concern about the cleanliness of canteen/mess facilities. In 4 per cent of cases they were never cleaned, while in 6 per cent of cases these facilities were only cleaned on a weekly basis.

Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “Providing toilets and washing facilities is not a luxury they are a basic human right.

“This survey must act as a wake-up call to the construction industry. In the 21st century there is no excuse for any workplace not to provide clean and decent welfare facilities.

“Companies that fail to provide decent welfare facilities can and should be prosecuted and this is an area where Unite is working with the Health and Safety Executive to ensure standards are improved.

“Where Unite is organised on a site we will always ensure that decent welfare facilities are provided and will ensure our members take the necessary measures to ensure they are in place.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

Respondents also expressed concern about the cleanliness of canteen/mess facilities. In 4 per cent of cases they were never cleaned, while in 6 per cent of cases these facilities were only cleaned on a weekly basis.

Workers operating in housing maintenance roles were most likely to be denied access to any welfare facilities, with nearly a quarter (23 per cent) saying that nothing was provided for them. This was principally as a result of the removal of depots and the requirement for mobile working.

For more information please contact Unite communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235.  Email: barckley.sumner@unitetheunion.org

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.