As predicted in several 2010 editions of Sitrep (8, 34 and 43), the Department now proposes to replace the long-standing and highly successful Joint FRNSW/FBEU Drug and Alcohol Protocol with a new, unilateral Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) Policy which has as it’s centrepiece random, on the spot testing for alcohol (breath testing) and illicit drugs (urine samples). Any member who fails either test will be directed to leave work and forfeit pay for that shift. They will also be referred to the Workplace Standards Branch for disciplinary proceedings, including possible termination of employment.
The Union’s State Committee yesterday resolved that the proposed AOD Policy be opposed due to:
(a) its punitive nature;
(b) its intrusive testing procedure;
(c) its intrusion into members’ non work time;
(d) its reversal of the onus of proof of wrongdoing; and
(e) the lack of any evidence that the current agreed Drug and Alcohol Protocol is not effective.
The Union’s industrial staff are reviewing the current Joint D&A Protocol with a view to presenting an updated Protocol to the August 2011 State Committee meeting for release to the Department as the Union’s position. Regrettably, having already created a new $250K pa “Drug and Alcohol Unit” and developed an entirely new Policy without even 5 minutes consultation with the Union, our expectation of an open mind or a considered response is fairly low.
We asked management how much extra they thought their random 24/7 drug testing squads were going to cost them. The answer? “We can afford it” – a curious reversal of their usual “we’re broke” mantra. Whatever it costs (and we will find out), you can bet these contractors (they won’t be FRNSW employees) would not come cheap. More to follow.
D&D salary sacrifice reminder
Clause 5.7 of the D&D Award provides that permanent contributions are made “by sacrificing an amount of unearned salary equivalent to the firefighter’s contribution pursuant to this clause, unless they elect to contribute from their post-tax salary”, however records suggest that around 500 members may still be contributing post-tax, potentially costing themselves hundreds of dollars extra each year. Permanent members are advised to check your payslips and, if unsure, to contact the Union office.
Public Sector protests roll on
I’ve been heartened to meet many FBEU members at the numerous rallies against the O’Farrell Government’s public sector IR laws rolling across the state, including today in Newcastle. Thank you to all those members who’ve attended and helped make our voice heard. The campaign is receiving good media coverage in regional areas, with links to these stories available on our website Forum.