A gentleman using an 'Old Style' urinal. Photo: Simon du Buisson
A row over toilets at plush new tax department offices in Melbourne is heading for the industrial tribunal with staff alleging that things are getting dirty in the workplace.
Public service unions say that the massive new Collins Square office complex has not got enough bathroom space or hand basins for the 2500 tax staffers who have been moved there, leading to embarrassing situations through the working day. But the Tax Office says the union's case is a busted flush and that Collins Square meets national standards of bathroom-to-worker ratios.
According to documents lodged with the Fair Work Commission by the Australian Services Union, a lack of hand basins is creating a health hazard at the state-of-the-art Docklands offices.
''The ASU maintains the inadequate number of bathroom sinks creates a hazard for the health of ATO staff because of the risk employees may not be prepared to queue to wash their hands after using the toilet,'' the union's claim states.
''The ASU maintains that buildings with inadequate numbers of bathroom sinks do not meet the standard of high quality accommodation required for its workforce by clause 126.1 of the ATO Enterprise Agreement.''
Worse, according to ASU organiser Jeff Lapidos, the layout of the male bathrooms at Collins are such that the men of the ATO could find themselves in a compromising position.
''They are so poorly designed that a person standing outside the men's toilet can see into the area of the urinal and with a little bit of luck, good or bad, or planning, it is possible to get a flash,'' Mr Lapidos told Fairfax.
While workers are also experiencing bathroom woes at new tax buildings in Dandenong and Box Hill, it is Collins Square, where 2500 tax officers have been moved from five different Melbourne CBD locations, that is proving the industrial relations flashpoint.
The union wants the Fair Work Commission to force the ATO to put its house in order in relation to bathrooms and to admit that it did not properly consult its workforce about the toilet situation at Box Hill, Dandenong and Docklands.
But the Tax Office insists its hands are clean and that the number of bathrooms and wash basins were allocated according to the proper building codes.
''It is not the number of toilets that is under question, but the number of hand basins in the washrooms,'' an ATO spokesman told Fairfax.
''All of the ATO's buildings comply with the National Building Code of Australia, which sets the standard on the provision of these facilities.''
The spokesman said independent experts had been drafted in to try to settle the dispute.