Unite’s campaign comes on the back of a survey of its women construction members that found a widespread lack of facilities for women having their periods.
Members’ responses to the survey included:
– “The toilets where I’m working are unisex portaloos. These are usually disgusting.”
– “One portaloo. No separate changing facilities. No sanitary product bins or dispensers.”
– “Asked for sanitary bins, got ignored. If a female says anything they don’t like, they put it down to PMT.”
Unite is asking construction companies to sign up to a four-point action plan:
1. Ensure each site or depot has a designated female toilet, which is always accessible, regularly cleaned and lockable
2. Handwashing facilities with running water and soap are provided in all welfare facilities
3. Sanitary bins are provided and they are cleaned and emptied regularly
4. Sanitary products are provided in a dispenser in a discreet location, free to workers.
The first site to sign up to Unite’s campaign is the Glasgow University Campus development, which is being built by Multiplex. It expects more sites to sign up in the coming weeks.
Unite activists have been supplied with letters, posters, leaflets and a petition with which to lobby employers to ensure that Unite’s period dignity campaign is adopted at their workplace.
Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “Unite is asking construction employers to sign up to four basic demands which will ensure that women workers can experience period dignity. With ever growing skills shortages in our industry, it is absolutely essential that construction becomes more attractive to women workers. A small step in achieving this is to ensure that women construction workers can have period dignity at work.
“Unite welcomes Multiplex’s role as a trailblazer in signing up to the campaign and will continue to highlight other sites and companies which also sign up in the future.”
Unite’s construction period campaign is an extension of the union’s period dignity campaign which was launched last year. The construction period dignity campaign has additional demands in recognition of the lack of facilities too often found in construction.