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2016-04-29

Telstra Drug and Alcohol policy: have your say

Telstra is continuing its consultations with employees about the introduction of a new Drug and Alcohol policy that will involve mandatory testing. 

The policy is being introduced in response to the Commonwealth government’s Building Code, designed to regulate the construction industry. 

It requires random testing of employees working on projects involving Commonwealth funding of upwards of $5 million which would of course include Telstra’s NBN-related contracts. 

The CWU has also been consulting members about this policy and based on their feedback has made representations to Telstra about a number of issues: 

 

  • The union wants to see a greater emphasis on counselling and rehabilitation in the policy. Drug and alcohol abuse, as it affects the workplace, is primarily a health and safety issue, not a disciplinary or performance management question. 

Telstra has agreed to this and will reflect this in its messages to employees and managers.

 

  • The CWU is concerned about the actual methods that will be used to select employees for the “random” tests. 

Consideration has been given to an electronic selection process such as the one used by Australia Post but this has been found   unsuitable. Telstra and the CWU are continuing to work towards an agreed process.

 

  • The union wants references in the policy to “prescription drugs” to be changed to “prescription medications” to help clarify the distinction between legal and illegal substances. It also wants guarantees that employee privacy in relation to use of prescription medication. 

Telstra has agreed to the change of wording. It also agrees that there should be mechanisms to ensure that information the testing agency may gather about prescription medication use cannot be made available to a third party ie the employer. 

 

The improvements the CWU has been able to negotiate with Telstra in this area reflect employee input. The CWU recommended that company- wide consultations take place and Telstra acknowledges they have been valuable. 

The consultations close on Wednesday 4 May.  We encourage any members who have not already done soto participate by responding to the survey.

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