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Tuesday, Jun 3, 2014

Asia

Thai bus workers wear diapers

The New Paper | Tuesday, Jun 3, 2014

Stuck for hours each day in snarling traffic, Thai bus conductors have found a radical solution to a lack of toilet breaks - adult nappies - as blue-collar workers find themselves on the sharp end of relentless urbanization and wealth inequalities.

Stuck for hours each day in snarling traffic, bus conductors in Thailand's capital have found a radical solution to a lack of toilet breaks - adult diapers.

With congestion worsening, conductors on Bangkok's ageing buses spend long days on the polluted roads in the tropical heat - often with no toilet stops along the route.

When she developed a urinary tract infection, Ms Watcharee Viriya had little choice but to wear adult diapers to cope with the many hours away from the restroom, AFP reported.

She said: "It was uncomfortable when I moved. When I arrived at the bus terminal, I had to run to get changed. I used at least two nappies a day."

Ms Watcharee is not alone: A recent survey found that 28 per cent of female bus conductors in Bangkok had worn nappies on a job that requires them to work up to 16 hours a day.

"We were shocked," said Mr Jaded Chouwilai, director of the Women and Men Progressive Movement Foundation, which carried out the research.

"We also found that many of them suffer urinary tract infections and stones in their bladders."

"Their working conditions are not good," said Ms Chutima Boonjai, secretary of the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority labour union, who has asked for more toilets to be placed along bus routes or in bus terminals.

"They have to work long hours in the heat and when they are hungry, they cannot eat. When they want to go to the toilet, they cannot go."

Bus drivers also suffer problems ranging from back pain to haemorrhoids.

"The worst cases are cancers, strokes and high blood pressure because of tiring and hot working conditions," said Ms Chutima. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it is a struggle to attract new recruits to work on the buses with a starting salary of 300 baht (S$11) a day.


This article was first published on June 1, 2014.
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