||Issue No. 155||04 October 2002|
Wrong Way, Go Back
Interview: The Wet One
Bad Boss: Like A Bastard
Unions: Demolition Derby
Corporate: The Bush Doctrine
Politics: American Jihad
Health: Secret Country
Review: Walking On Water
Poetry: The UQ Stonewall
Month In Review
The Locker Room
Shame on Murray
Use or Abuse of Long Term Casuals
Speaking in Tongues
Experts to Arrest Drug Test Outbreak
The Council has engaged consultants, experienced in work with the Police Department, to develop alternatives to the invasions of worker privacy being demanded by employers.
Council safety watchdog, Mary Yaager, blasted "knee jerk demands" for testing as "expensive, invasive and inefficient".
"As a health and safety measure, drug testing is flawed," she said. "What it will tell employers is whether or not workers have drugs in their system. What it won't reveal is any level of impairment and that's what we need to identify.
"Drug test doesn't measure impairment. It's not designed to do that."
Yaager said Labor Council backed the training-up of people in the workplace who could identify specific impairments. She said that worker or employer reps on Safety Committees would be the obvious candidates.
Labor Council has commissioned independent, expert advice on the matter as at least three separate employers try to ram through claims that they should have the unilateral right to put workers through drug tests.
Off the Rails
The RTBU has stalled state government efforts to introduce random testing of rail employees at any time, day or night.
There is currently provision for workers to be tested at sign-on point but there is strong opposition to that being extended without adequate reason.
Union secretary Nick Lewocki says every rail accident is fully investigated and the findings made public. There has not been one accident in the past 20 years attributed to alchohol or drug abuse.
"Once signed on our people can still be tested if there is an incident, in practice that means an accident, public complaint or supervisor suspicion. We will not allow that to be broadened unless it is done in the context of a full review of matters such as fatigue and impairment - the full gamut of safety on our rail system," he said.
Government has agreed to such a review before going ahead with the proposed regulation.
Storemen Buck Tests
Last month NUW storemen and labourers at Brambles Sydney depots struck for 48 hours in opposition to a policy the company has already imposed in South and Western Australia.
Brambles calls their tests "voluntary" but anyone refusing is subject to dismissal.
"The policy is plain wrong," NUW secretary Derrick Belan said. "Our people have no objection to proper impairment tests but this is ridiculous. There are no laws in this country which force people to submit to drug and alcohol testing."
The NUW is slugging the issue out with Brambles in the Federal IRC. That case is currently on hold.
Meanwhile, NSW IRC Commissioner Michael Walton is about to bring down a decision in a similar dispute between BHP and the AWU in Wollongong.
Yaager says Labor Council would use its report to update policy guidelines and seek a an agreed approach to the issue.
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