Unite union members set to protest over ‘toilet shame’ at RAF Cranwell

Members of the Unite union will be protesting outside RAF College Cranwell on Saturday morning due to what they claim is the Ministry of Defence’s “failure” to provide decent toilets for workers.

RAF College Cranwell.
RAF College Cranwell.

On what is billed as World Toilet Day, Unite is hoping to highlight the MoD’s “toilet shame”

The problem first arose eight years ago when the first female civilian firefighters were recruited to the college in 2014. It became apparent the ageing toilet and shower facilities in place were not fit for purpose and were not adequate for unisex use.

The firefighters' union, Unite, secured the support of Capita, which is responsible for managing the outsourced firefighter’s contract.

According to Unite, Capita has offered to procure a temporary separate facility attached to the firefighter centre at RAF Cranwell. But due to red tape put forward by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, which is an arm of the Ministry of Defence, a workable solution has been held up, says Unite. Although the MoD now says it is currently working on upgrading the facilities.

The union’s regional officer Paula Stephens said: “It is disgusting that after eight years the MoD has failed to ensure that our members at RAF Cranwell can have toilet dignity. The failure to provide decent toilets is an attack on our members’ basic human rights.

“The MoD should be ashamed of its actions and immediately remove the blockage which is preventing adequate facilities being provided at RAF Cranwell. The MoD also needs to ensure that similar problems at other bases are also rapidly resolved.”

Although Unite is holding a protest at RAF Cranwell, the problem is not unique to the airbase. Across the UK, the union claims other female civilian MoD workers, especially those working as firefighters, have reported similar problems.

World Toilet Day is recognised by the United Nations and highlights the 3.6 billion people who are forced to live with poor quality toilets.

A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: “Work is ongoing to upgrade facilities and we are working closely with our contractor to complete this as soon as possible.”

They added that the project will provide gender neutral toilet and shower facilities.

They explained that following an increase in firefighter levels at RAF Cranwell, funding has been identified for a temporary solution in the meantime.

“Personnel are being updated on progress and will continue to be as the project continues,” they continued.