City holds on to its royal flush

Public toilets and their attendants to hold court for another year

Copenhagen’s city planning council Teknik- og Miljøudvalget ruled on Monday to save the city’s six historic staffed public toilets.

Last month The Copenhagen Post reported that the spotless city toilets – located at Amagertorv, Israel Plads, Vesterbrotorv, Nyhavn, Rådhuspladsen and Trianglen – were in danger of being shut down in order to save the city some 20 million kroner per year.

If the plan had gone through, Copenhageners and tourists alike would have lost what are arguably the cleanest and most convenient lavatories in the city; the toilet attendants – who bear with grace the ignominious Danish nickname ‘tissekoner’ (‘pisswives’ ) – also would have found themselves out of a job.

Instead, union representatives and public patrons came to their rescue.

The toilet attendants collected 7,756 signatures in a week for a petition titled “Save the pisswives”, while representatives from FOA, the labour union that represents the toilet attendants, argued that people would not wait in line to use single-use automatic toilets, the alternative proposal.

“It has to do with safety, and also with making sure that people don’t urinate on the street. If there were automatic toilets, without pisswives, people wouldn’t stand in the queue. They would just go around the corner instead,” said FOA’s labour representative Marianne Luckow.

Bent Lohmann, chairman of CopenhagenÂ’s inner city council, remarked that the city could not expect to increase the number of street festivals and fairs without also paying for clean-up and adequate public toilets.

“If Copenhagen wants to continue to have the nightlife it has today, then thereÂ’s also the need for staffing [toilets]. Finally, it also has consequences for employment – we need jobs for unskilled workers,” Lohmann said.

Approximately one million people use CopenhagenÂ’s six staffed public toilets each year, at a cost of two kroner per use. Latfre Bakir, who works as an attendant at the Amagertorv toilet, had one suggestion for how the city could raise funds to finance the toilets.

“I’ve been asking people if they’d be prepared to pay five or six kroner instead and everyone has said ‘yes’,” Bakir told The Copenhagen Post.





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