Tata steel: Whistleblower says security guards denied toilet breaks and forced to 'soil themselves'

  • By Dean Thomas-Welch, Swansea Correspondent

Security guards at Tata Steels plant in Port Talbot claim they are forced to urinate in bottles after being denied toilet breaks.

Staff have also confessed to soiling themselves during an ITV Wales investigation into working conditions at the UK's largest steelworks. 

Current staff and former guards have asked for their identities to remain hidden due to fears over their jobs and reprisals should they be seen speaking out. It comes as they blow the whistle on conditions faced during gruelling 12 hours shifts at the site's main entrances.

John (not his real name) worked as a guard at Tata Steels Port Talbot plant. Like all guards there he was an employee of Corps Security but answered to the head of security employed by Tata.

The Indian firm employs around 4,000 people at its Port Talbot site and is one of Wales' most important employers.

He says he was allowed one 40 minute break during his 12-hour shifts and had to ring for cover if he needed the toilet outside of his break. He says the cover was almost always denied.

"I found there were difficulties getting cover to go to the loo. A lot of the guards in the control posts were actually weeing in bottles because they knew they couldn't go and then trying to discard it where ever they could."

John admits on one occasion, after cover was refused for him to use the toilet, he soiled himself and was removed off-site by management.

"It's an embarrassment, it's not something you like to admit, you just feel as if you're inhumane. I kept ringing and ringing and asking please can someone come down to take the post so that I can go across to the centre and go to the loo and I just kept being told 'no, no there's no one coming down you're just going to have to wait.

"I had to leave the post and the following day, when I went in, I was told that the Tata Steel security manager had looked through the CCTV, seen that I was twelve minutes going across to the loo and coming back, and told Corps Security to site remove me."

John says he left his job at Tata Steel soon after and has now found employment elsewhere. 

A current staff member who wishes to remain anonymous told ITV Cymru Wales working conditions at the plant's security gatehouses are poor.

"I've seen rats at the gatehouses and nothing is done about it when we raise concerns. Guards urinate in bottles and cups as they cant get cover to use the toilet. I know staff members who have wet themselves after waiting over an hour and a half to use the toilet. People are scared to speak out."

In a statement, Tata Steel said: “We are concerned about the issues which have been raised. Everyone who works on our sites must have access to the facilities they need to allow them to work in a safe and comfortable environment."

The plant in Port Talbot produces nearly five million tonnes of steel slab every year and is one of the largest steelworks in Europe.

“We have outsourced our security services to a third party supplier, which is responsible for ensuring the wellbeing of its staff, including appropriate breaks. We have contacted the relevant contract company and are seeking answers on these matters. We will conduct an investigation and act on any findings.”

A spokesperson for Corps Security said: "As a social enterprise, Corps Security values our employees highly and fully respects their rights and entitlements. We have a strong record of positive engagement with our people and we encourage an open dialogue with each and every member of staff."

"In March this year, a member of the security team working at Tata Steel’s Port Talbot site raised the issue of access to comfort breaks. We investigated and canvassed the wider team for feedback but no-one else mentioned this as a concern. Shortly afterwards, the individual moved to work on another site managed by Corps Security."

"We are not aware of any further concerns within the team but working closely with Tata Steel we will set up an on-site clinic to ensure everyone has the opportunity to share their views. If needed, we will then make adjustments in conjunction with our customer."