Fair Work Australia’s controversial ruling against urine testing
Following Fair Work Australia’s (FWA) controversial ruling to disallow urine samples at New South Wales energy company Endeavour Energy, prison guards, train drivers and fire fighters have appealed to the state government for the same condition.
The FWA ruling solely permit the company to conduct drug tests through a saliva swab sample but no urine in its alcohol and drug-testing program.
In his ruling, FWA Senior Deputy President Jonathon Hamburger ruled “not only is urine testing potentially less capable of identifying someone who is under the influence of cannabis, but it also has the disadvantage that it may show a positive result even though it is several days since the person has smoked the substance.
This means that a person may be found to have breached the policy even though their actions were taken in their own time and in no way affect their capacity to do their job safely.”
Scott McNamara, from the United Services Union, stated that the “FWA found the urine testing ... invasive and unjust.”
“The tribunal took a view that drug testing is not for social monitoring. Drug testing is to seek if you are fit for work, and that gets down to workplace safety” he said.
“What people do on the weekend does not necessarily have a bearing on what they do during the day. It’s similar to alcohol consumption.”
Upon this ruling, other trade unions celebrated the decision.
Jim Casey from the Fire Brigade Employees’ Union says it’s a matter of dignity.
“We’ll happily cop random drug and alcohol testing the day that surgeons, lawyers and politicians are required. Leaving that aside, the question about urine testing for us is a question about dignity. We turn up to work, we do a dangerous job, we do it well, and I don’t think that it’s appropriate that we be required to urinate on request from our management,” stated Casey.
Endeavour Energy is appealing the ruling.
Version 1.0 | 17/05/2012
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