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Working conditions flushed as Aurizon install Porta Pottis

Jan 14, 2016News

Camping toilets have been installed in trains across Central Queensland with attempts to bring them to the Hunter in what Aurizon considers to be acceptable conditions for workers.

IMG_3246-1These locomotives were built with toilets, it is the company that has had them removed to save themselves money and their bandaid fix is barely adequate for short trips, and wholly unacceptable for long journeys. Train crew conditions and comfort are just not on the radar for Aurizon.

This is a return to the bad old days of the 421 class locomotives that didn’t have toilets at all.

The toilets, Porta Potti Qube 365s, are not intended for industrial use and need constant emptying and refilling to ensure safe and clean conditions for users. However, with a capacity of only 15 litres, and a flush rate of 6 litres for a full flush, the Porta Potti will need refilling after only two flushes, which is not something easy to do on the rails.

For a little insight, Thetford Porta Potti 365 toilets can be purchased at BCF (Boating, Camping and Fishing) stores for $189. Disappointingly, these aren’t even the most expensive ones available, but we assume that the more upmarket Porta Pottis are saved for management and the board of directors.

IMG_3245While these reasons alone make the toilet unfit for purpose, they are also only being cleaned and maintained when trains return for provisioning every 48 hours, and are installed in cramped cubicles so small that average workers can barely squeeze into the space.

The situation is only going to get worse as the 3200 class locomotives will be used on longer runs, some as long as 800km.

Members in the Hunter have already had a win with Aurizon’s plans blocked to replace Microphor toilets on the 5000 class locomotives with Porta Pottis.  Aurizon had stopped maintaining the toilets, and also were expecting train crew to empty the Porta Pottis themselves. While they were stopped, we must stay alert as Aurizon will try and go ahead with this at a later date.

While the Independent Transport Safety Regulator has been notified, SafeWork NSW have previously cancelled Provisional Improvement Notices that health and safety representatives have raised about the Porta Pottis.

The union will be fighting to ensure that Aurizon provides workers with safe, clean, and dignified amenities available for their use.