Something stinks about today’s construction sites

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

As president of the BC Building Trades, I am asked by Tradetalk to write about important topics for our members. This time is no different. I would like to sound the alarm on a very crappy situation on many of our construction sites–toilets! 

Every day, the men and women of the building trades go to work building this province. They build our roads, our bridges, our hospitals, and our schools. This work takes them to all corners of the province and often some very remote locations. 

Is it too much to ask that, when they feel the call of nature, they be able to do their business in a clean and private john? 

I’ve been a construction worker for decades and I’ve seen it all. I’ve squatted in bushes, stood over holes, packed in potties, and hiked over to gas stations. 

I’ve seen broken doors, broken toilets, overflows, bullet holes–the situation is literally a shit show.

It’s time we raised our voices and demanded better. Toilet paper is not a luxury–it’s a right! 

Seriously, it is. The Workers Compensation Act compels employers to either provide toilets and/or urinals and sinks, or provide access to these facilities. These facilities are supposed to be clean and adequately supplied with toilet paper and soap. 

Yet, day after day, workers are forced to use the most disgusting facilities. Port-a-potties go days without cleaning and weeks without being pumped. This leaves many members feeling angry and humiliated. 

The situation stinks! 

I’ve spoken to many of you about your experiences and I know how important sanitary facilities are.

Employers may see a short-term gain in not keeping up proper washrooms. But they are paying a heavy economic price in the long run. It’s common for members to refuse to work on sites where they know the toilets suck. And if workers do arrive at a poorly maintained site, employers are losing time and money because workers are forced to hike up to the closest gas station to relieve themselves.

Everyone is affected, particularly our female members who don’t necessarily have the option of propping the door of their excavator open and peeing over the edge. Further, just because a man can, doesn’t mean he should be forced to.

We deserve to be treated with dignity. 

Rest assured your union leaders are monitoring this crappy situation closely. We will continue to fight for better commodes for all of our members.

Clean toilets are a right. We will not give up the fight!

President's View - Lee Loftus
BCBT President, Business Manager insulators local 118

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