Reposted from: USW 7884 Fording River Operations Newsletter, Aug 2013
Under Teck’s new alcohol and drug testing policy, Teck supervisors can show up where you are working at any time, insist that you accompany them to a testing site, and keep you there until you provide them with breath and urine samples, which they send away to a lab for analysis. Teck is able to engage in this investigation into your private life and off-duty conduct, even though it has no reason to suspect you of misusing alcohol or drugs, or of being impaired at work. Most workers find this demeaning and degrading.
Why does Teck treat its workers this way?
Teck says that random alcohol and drug testing is not about improving productivity and profits. Indeed, it must be costing Teck a fortune to do the tests and to defend its alcohol and drug testing policy at arbitration. Certainly, having pissed off workers doesn’t help productivity. Instead, Teck says that its new random testing policy is all about safety. After all, who wouldn’t support workplace safety? But the scientific evidence doesn’t prove that random testing really results in a safer workplace.
Remember that for years, Teck has been testing employees for drug and alcohol use only when there is some reasonable cause for it, such as a safety incident in the workplace, and there is no evidence that alcohol and drugs have been a factor in accidents or injuries. Fording River and Elkview have excellent safety records. What was wrong with the old system? So, why is Teck really randomly testing its workers? What does Teck gain by treating all of its workers as untrustworthy and potentially dangerous? What does Teck gain by putting its workers’ private lives under a microscope? What does Teck gain by focusing concerns about health and safety on the private lives and behaviour of its workers?
What Teck gains is control – control over your body, control over your movements, and control over your personal life. But it’s way more than that. Having put its control – and power – in your face, Teck wants to convince you to be obedient followers of all of its rules, even if those rules aren’t necessary, fair or reasonable.
Teck wants to show suspicion and cause divisions between you and your co-workers. Teck wants to take your mind off of how the work environment, maintenance and training (or the lack thereof), and work speed-up – all things in their control – are the key causes of workplace safety problems.
At the end of the day, all of this feeds Teck’s bottom-line. Workers know better than to fall for these well-tried employer tactics. The safest workplaces are those where workers have a meaningful say about how best to keep their workplaces safe and where workers aren’t afraid to hold employers to account when they try to sidestep their responsibilities. Let’s get back to the real business of Health and Safety.