999 responders claim their toilet breaks are being limited

Staff are also set to ballot for industrial action

999, responders, toilet breaks, living wage, industrial action, CWU

An emergency call being made on an iPhone mobile phone | Image: Ian West / PA Archive/PA Images

Workers who answer 999 calls claim their toilet breaks are being limited.

Staff say they were informed of a new toilet break policy, just hours after they announced their intention to ballot for industrial action.

They are demanding to be paid the living wage of €11.50 an hour.

The Communications Workers Union (CWU) - which represents the staff - says the new policy allows a maximum of seven minutes for a single toilet break.

And if the emergency call operator needs more time, they have to seek specific permission from line management.

They are allowed a total of 19 minutes of toilet breaks during a 12 hour shift.

CWU General-Secretary Steve Fitzpatrick said: "The CWU has come across some strange and bizarre policies at call centres over the years but this one takes the biscuit".

"It is a gross insult that BT Ireland/Conduit choose to impose oppressive policies on workers who already do a very tough and stressful job".

"Workers that play such a central role in directing first responders to save lives are entitled to respect and dignity at their workplace. This is an invasion of their privacy and displays a total disregard for the dignity of the individual".

"The emergency call workers are being treated as if they were a bunch of school children who need permission to use the toilet. These are hard-working people delivering a vital public service", he added.