Toilet access ‘huge problem’ in Bristol

Concerns have been raised over bus drivers’ access to public toilets in Bristol. Unite the trade union has warned Bristol council that the decision to close the vast majority of public conveniences in the city is denying workers access to toilets and has forced some to quit their jobs.

Unite regional officer Malcolm Green recently provided a written statement to Bristol council’s communities scrutiny commission to discuss the community toilet scheme. The scheme resulted in all the city’s public toilets being closed last year as part of a money saving exercise. The council has asked private businesses to freely provide access to their toilets to non-customers. However, Unite has found that this scheme is not effective for workers, such as bus drivers. Drivers in the city are frequently required to work a five and half hour shift without access to a toilet during that time. Unite is now calling on the council to take proper action to ensure all companies providing services in the city are ensuring that their workers experience ‘toilet dignity’.

Alan Peters of Bristol operator, Abus, said: “I complained ten years ago to the council about this. They sent me a map of commercial premises where our drivers could use the toilet. They closed a lot of public toilets around our routes.”

Regarding using local businesses’ toilets, Alan said: “I wouldn’t want to go into McDonald’s and use their facilities and not buy anything. They’re providing their facilities as part of their commercial undertaking.

“I fully support Unite. And I rarely support Unite. It’s not just for bus drivers, it’s for members of the public. And the toilets that exist are a disgrace. It’s a huge problem.

“If you look at a standard Bristol route, they can be a three-hour round-trip. You can be behind the wheel four to five hours a time. I’m not convinced I could last four or five hours. I could imagine situations where drivers find it impossible.

“There must be some kind of provision. I can understand why some would leave. The least the council should do is have a facility where drivers would have a code to use it. But Bristol council aren’t the best at anything.”

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