The dirt on segregated toilets

Is it discriminatory of Wisma to ban construction workers from public toilets?

Megan Low

Published: 29 April 2016, 11:20 AM

Wisma Atria’s recent decision to ban construction workers from using their public toilets has received a large amount of backlash. However, not everyone is in agreement on whether the mall management’s decision is discriminatory.

What’s going on?

On Apr 17, signs were spotted outside the men’s toilets of Wisma Atria, indicating that contractors are banned from using the public toilets. They warned that any workers who used toilets other than the one located at the carpark would be fined and “immediately banned” from working.

This issue was picked up by local papers later that week, and it sparked fierce debate online. Some netizens went as far as making calls for people to boycott the shopping mall.


Could this happen to Singapore in the future?
Photo credit:


While the mall’s management explained that the ban was imposed in light of shoppers’ complaints about workers washing their tools in the sink, many still think that the ban is discriminatory.

Transient Workers Count Too executive committee member Debbie Fordyce feels that an absolute ban is a disproportionate response. She said: “If the complaints are that they are making the floor dirty, they’re not doing it because they’re sloppier people. It’s just the nature of their work. They were asked to work in that area and they have the same physical needs that other people do.

“They could just have easily have put up signs cautioning workers against showering or washing tools and told them to do it at the fifth floor toilet.”


One netizen voiced out that the rule is discriminatory.


En En, 19, who works part-time at an ice cream parlour, said: “I understand the mall management’s predicament. However, I do feel that the ban was a little excessive. Threatening expulsion is no joke, and seems like a very severe punishment for something like using the wrong toilet.”

However, others feel that it is not discriminatory as the mall’s management is simply trying to ensure that patrons can have a pleasant and conducive shopping environment. They argue that it is standard protocol at many places to prohibit staff from using toilets meant for the public.


Other netizens expresses that they do not think it is a human rights issue.


19-year-old Gabriel Yap, who is currently serving the National Service, thinks there could be more to this issue than meets the eye. He said: “Perhaps the management did give countless warnings about keeping the toilets clean, but to no avail. So, they had to resort to a measure like this to ensure that contractors will be more mindful.”


Will letting construction workers use the toilet mean more work for toilet cleaners?


In addition, some feel that if contractors continue to track mud and dirt from their boots into the toilets, it may increase the burden on toilet cleaners. Hence, it may be more efficient and easier for the cleaners if they only have to maintain one toilet used by contractors.

What’s your take?

1. Do you think the ban is an appropriate response to complaints about construction crew dirtying the toilets? Why?
2. How else could the mall’s management have responded to these complaints?

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