How inconvenient: Rochdale council scraps unisex loos at £50m offices
Charlotte Philby is a writer at The Independent with a weekly column on motherhood in The Independent Magazine. She was shortlisted for the 2013 Cudlipp award for excellence in popular journalism for her undercover investigative work, and writes for various cultural magazines.
Wednesday 20 March 2013
A council has been forced to scrap unisex loos at its new offices. Staff members were concerned to find mixed-sex lavatories when Rochdale Council moved part of its operations to £50m premises last week.
Following a string of complaints from employers who felt uncomfortable with the unusual arrangements, bosses agreed to put in separate male and female toilets for staff when the new headquarters becomes fully occupied later this year.
The smart new office-space at Number One Riverside, which is also home to Rochdale library, opened to the public last Wednesday and will eventually house around 2,000 public sector workers.
Helen Harrison, Unison's Rochdale branch secretary, said council staff had raised concerns about the new facilities with the union.
Harrison said: "People do have different views on it but there are a number of people who are upset about the unisex issue.
"I think what the council is looking at doing now is tallying up the ratio of male and female workers on each floors and will split up the toilets that way."
Mark Widdup, operational services director at the council, said: "The building was intended to have unisex toilets on the office floors, as is the norm in many modern buildings. However, based on staff feedback who have been based in the building for several weeks and discussions with the unions, we've decided to review these facilities.
"Until the building is fully occupied the toilets will remain in unisex use until a full review is completed to determine male and female staffing ratios per floor. The toilets will then be separated into male and female use based on these ratios."
Mr Widdup added: "Customer toilets on the ground floor have always been separated for male and female use."
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