Sydney council announces drug testing for employees

by L&D04 Nov 2016
A council in western Sydney is to introduce drug testing for its employees in an unprecedented crackdown on workers.
Blacktown City Council will hire a team of drug specialists to test employees for cocaine, cannabis and ice in anyone deemed under "reasonable suspicion" of abusing drugs in the workplace.
A spokesperson for the office of the Minister for Local Government, Peter Toole, said that the health and safety of all council employees was essential, and that the minister supported any council measures to support this priority.
The drug testing has met with opposition, however, in the form of the United Services Union, which represents Blacktown City Council workers. They claim that the tender for the testing does hot adhere to council policy.
The deputy mayor of Blacktown, Tony Bleasdale, has also criticised the proposal.
"The testing is an extension of drug and alcohol guidelines which are already in place," he said.
"The standards expected by the community in regards to alcohol and drug abuse is that they will not accept it. If you are drinking, the community expects you to be responsible."
The program will see council hierarchy provide 20 names each month to contracted testers. These workers will be tested for cocaine, MDMA, opiates, amphetamine and methamphetamine, cannabis and benzodiazepines.
If an employee is selected, they must provide a urine sample or oral swab within 24 hours, though in the event of an accident, workers will be tested within 90 minutes.
According to tender documents, a mobile facility to conduct the tests must be provided by the contractor if no suitable on-site venue is available.
The council will also breathalyse employees using the same tolerance levels for drivers, with workers who work directly with children or who drive 13.9-tonne vehicles permitted blood alcohol of 0.02 before disciplinary action is taken.