In a change to its long standing policies, Telstra says it will introduce random testing for drug and alcohol use for at least some of its employees.
The new policy (the Alcohol & Other Drugs Management Procedure) is basically designed to ensure that Telstra meets the requirements of the Building Code 2012 which applies to work on certain Commonwealth funded building projects such as the NBN.
Where Telstra is a principal contractor on such a project, the Code will require it to conduct random monthly testing of its employees and contractors.
Members should note that this testing will be by taking saliva samples, not the more intrusive urine samples.
The CWU made representations to Telstra on this issue and the policy reflects our input in this regard.
Under the new policy, testing may also be carried out if Telstra has “reasonable grounds” to think there is a drug and/or alcohol problem in the workplace that could pose a threat to health and safety or if there has been a critical health and safety incident.
These provisions would apply whether or not an employee was working on a Commonwealth funded project.
At this stage Telstra is proposing that its new policy will only apply to employees in the Operations field workforce who are engaged in “Building Work” covered by the Code. The definition of “Building Work” includes not only construction but also maintenance of communications infrastructure and so would apply to both the recently signed HFC contract and to the Operations and Maintenance contract which Telstra won last year.
Telstra briefed the CWU on the new policy at a meeting on Tuesday 5 April and is currently consulting with employees about its contents and its implementation. These consultations were originally designed to go until 27 April but have now been extended to Wednesday 4 May.
The CWU encourages members to respond to this survey. The union is also is keen to get direct feedback from members on this issue. You can contact your state branch or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
While the union understands that Telstra must comply with the Code if it wants to win contracts for Commonwealth work, we will be seeking assurances that the new policy doesn’t become a vehicle for harassment and discrimination in the workplace.