Lorry and bus drivers have developed Covid-type illnesses as they cannot find anywhere to wash their hands because of a shortage of public toilets, according to a report.
Unite said personal accounts from members of their experiences of trying to find toilets were “harrowing”.
A survey of 6,000 mainly lorry and bus drivers found that many said they were routinely denied access to toilets during working hours and the lockdown earlier this year made the situation worse.
Around seven out of 10 respondents said they did not have access to toilets and washing facilities during their normal working day.
Unite said it was a legal requirement for companies to provide access to toilets and washing facilities to drivers making deliveries, adding that the number of employers refusing access had increased during the initial lockdown.
The union’s assistant general secretary Diana Holland said: “It is completely unacceptable that tens of thousands of workers are being routinely denied the basic right to have access to toilets in the 21st century.
“This is making workers ill and during the pandemic the lack of handwashing facilities will undoubtedly have increased the spread of Covid-19.
“Employers have a clear legal duty to allow drivers to use toilets, but this is too often ignored. Companies who fail to ensure the welfare of their workers should be prosecuted for public health offences.
“It is simply not good enough that professional drivers such as bus drivers have to rely on visiting takeaways or a supermarket to go to the toilet, because companies are failing to ensure facilities are available.
“Far too many workers are becoming ill or even being forced to leave their jobs because they don’t have access to toilets when they need them.”
Unite released the findings on World Toilet Day, the official United Nations international observance day to highlight the global sanitation crisis.