||Issue No. 213||19 March 2004|
Pay For View
Interview: Baby Bust
Safety: Dust To Dust
Bad Boss: Shaming in Print
National Focus: Work's Cripplin' Us
International: Bulk Bullies
History: The Battle for Kelly's Bush
Economics: Aid, Trade And Oil
Review: The Art Of Work
Poetry: Sew His Lips Together
Tom On Drink
Howard Screws Vets
Drug Tests On Hold
The compromise was thrashed out following a long campaign in which workers argued testing was being used as a "disciplinary" rather than a "safety" tool.
The dispute came to a head when Minister Costa backed Railcorp management's use of Section 127 Orders that could have subjected striking AMWU members to fines or imprisonment.
"Rail workers are not opposed to drug and alcohol testing," says John Robertson, secretary of the NSW Labor Council. "Rather than dealing with the safety of workers and the public, this is being used as a 'big stick' by Railcorp management, including the CEO and the Minister."
"This is a safety issue, not a disciplinary issue."
Railcorp is seeking to introduce a regime that is even more stringent than that employed by the NSW Police Force.
Drug testing will continue at Railcorp, but the moratorium has been introduced on disciplinary action against staff until research is conducted into the effectiveness and methods used to measure drug use by workers. Railworkers will not be allowed to continue working if they test positive but it will stop the practice of workers being summarily dumped for "failing" a drug test, rather than being offered counselling or rehabilitation.
Railcorp have refused to budge on the way alcohol testing is being conducted.
Rail workers representatives have labelled RailCorp's approach to drug and alcohol testing as hypocritical. Senior Railcorp management will not be subject to the drug and alcohol testing policy, jobs are being slashed from safety critical areas while this policy is being implemented and that recommendations from earlier inquiries into rail accidents still haven't been acted upon.
"Let's get fair dinkum about safety," says Bernie Riordan NSW secretary of the Electrical Trades Union (ETU). "All sorts of recommendations came out of the inquiries into the Glenbrook and Waterfall accidents, including improvements to communications equipment, that haven't been acted upon."
For rail workers, the real safety issue is impairment. Front line rail workers have pointed out that there are more issues that affect rail safety than being under the influence, including being impaired by other factors including being short staffed due to job cuts.
The drug testing methodology has also come under question, with some drug tests taking up to 24 hours to return a result - which does not address the ability of safety critical staff to perform
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