Research by Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union, has found that workers in the transport sector are being routinely denied access to toilets, which is creating health issues and in some cases forcing workers to leave their jobs.

Unite has released its research to coincide with World Toilet Day today (Tuesday 19 November) the theme for this year is ‘no one left behind’.

Bus drivers denied toilets

A recent survey of nearly 5,000 bus drivers, who are members of Unite, found that 83 per cent of them are “not supplied with a list of toilet facilities or a map should the need arise on routes”.

The lack of accessible toilet facilities on a bus route is a particularly important issue for bus drivers as shifts are regularly 5 and half hours long before they have a break from driving and forcing drivers to wait that long before using a toilet can cause serious health issues and can also result in them becoming distracted and losing concentration while driving.

No toilets in lay-bys

A separate survey of over 4,000 lorry drivers also identified a major issue with a lack of access to toilets. The survey found that when asked the question; ‘when sleeping at a lay-by are you able to easily access toilet and washroom facilities’ 89 per cent of respondents said they rarely or never had access to such facilities.

Lorry drivers are regularly forced to sleep in lay-bys in order to comply with driving regulations due to the chronic lack of truck stops.

Denied toilet dignity

Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland said: “Transport workers the length and breadth of the UK are being denied toilet dignity on a daily basis.

“Unite is using the opportunity of World Toilet Day to highlight this public health problem and this year’s slogan of no one being left behind is particularly apt as, transport workers are definitely being left behind when it comes to toilet dignity.

“The lack of access to toilets is simply intolerable and can and does result in our members developing severe health problems and in some cases being forced to quit their jobs due to medical conditions.

“This is an issue for all transport workers, but a lack of access to toilets for women when they have their period or are going through the menopause, or facilities where they risk abuse or sexual harassment, are more barriers faced by women working in this sector where they are already underrepresented.

“Employers have a clear legal duty to provide adequate toilets for their workers and Unite will be ensuring that those duties are met.

“No workers should be denied toilet dignity by either not having decent facilities or by not being able to freely access them. That is why Unite supports the global transport workers sanitation charter being launched for this World Toilet Day and we are calling on all employers to sign up and make a difference”

Case studies

Recent case studies obtained by Unite include: “Toilet facilities are awful. Most are locked or out of use. Drivers having to relieve themselves in country areas due to poorly placed breaks. One driver who is a 63 year old woman reliving herself in a lay-by due to this. Ridiculous.”

"The company doesn’t believe a human requires the need to use a toilet. We are robots.”

“Several premises where we used to have access to toilets have closed. Access to toilets is very limited, especially outside of office hours. This is one of the main reasons that I am seeking alternative employment at this time.”


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 07802 329235 or 0203 371 2067. Email: [email protected]

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