workplace safety

Unions oppose Talley’s move to protect workers

Fishing is one of the most dangerous occupations in New Zealand yet shockingly some unions oppose drug testing in this and other dangerous industries. Would you want to work with someone who uses P? Addicts of Methamphetamine are dangerous individuals who can become unpredictable, extremely violent and manic. Imagine having someone like that on board a fishing boat at sea. You would think that workers would support their company taking precautions to protect them from co-workers on P. After all, they would be the first to complain that their employer had not ensured the safety of their workers if there was a P related accident onboard.

Testing of employees for drugs or alcohol is becoming increasingly common in New Zealand workplaces.

The main reason employers decide to test is that, depending on the type of work being performed, impairment by alcohol or drugs gives rise to a very real health and safety hazard.
Employers are required by law to take reasonable steps to protect employees and others from hazards at work ? drug or alcohol testing is a reasonable step that can be taken, especially now that testing services are readily available in New Zealand.

-findlaw.co.nz

Unfortunately, New Zealand company Talley’s do not have workers as concerned about safety as they are. At least not onboard their Nelson based ship.

Crew members from a Nelson-based Talley’s ship say they feel violated after their hair was shaved to comply with company drug-testing.

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Why do unions oppose drug testing? Don’t they care for safety?

The unions usually bang on about workplace safety. And they have a point mostly.

No one wants people to go to work and be put at risk of serious injury or worse.

Yet we constantly see unions opposing drug testing. Why?

A union has criticised plans to drug test workers for kava as discriminatory – but the company involved has categorically denied the claim.

In a statement yesterday, the First Union said Goodman Fielder’s employees at the Quality Bakers site in Dunedin would be subject to testing for kava.

However, both the company and the Drug Detection Agency, which Goodman Fielder has contracted to carry out drug testing, have denied workers would be tested for kava.

The union is standing by its claim, and says such testing would be discriminatory,

“Classing kava as a drug will have a racist impact. It effectively means targeting Pasifika people,” First Union organiser Jerome Mika said.

The roots of the kava plant are used to produce a drink which has a sedative effect. It is used throughout the Pacific and is known as ‘ava in Samoa and ‘awa in Hawaii.

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