TEU opposes Otago Polytechnic drug tests

Posted By TEU on May 7, 2015 |

Tertiary Update Vol 18 No 13

Otago Polytechnic is considering drug and alcohol testing for most students and staff, after it tested almost 100 engineering students for drugs earlier this year, reports the Otago Daily Times.

TEU organiser Kris Smith has advised members at the polytechnic that it is not necessary or legal to drug test for ordinary workers randomly.

The polytechnic has subsequently clarified that it does not mean to introduce random testing of staff. It is still consulting on the testing policy with students and staff.

Smith says the Human Rights Act, the Bill of Rights Act and the Privacy Act 1993 all have to be taken into consideration when determining whether it is reasonable to require drug and alcohol testing.

“None of the collective employment agreements at Otago Polytechnic have clauses enabling the requirement to undergo drug and alcohol testing.  The Department of Labour states that it will be difficult for an employer to introduce drug testing if that right is not contained in the relevant employment agreements unless the employee gives their consent.”

Smith says it can be very difficult for an individual to refuse consent for a drug test, which is why members of the TEU rely on their union to address these matters on their behalf.

The polytechnic wants the ability to test staff and students working in “safety sensitive areas”. TEU says the current policy’s definition of “safety sensitive” is too broad, covering students or staff in all programmes, except for business and IT.

TEU national president Sandra Grey told the Otago Daily Times the polytechnic needs to give clear reasons why an area had a particularly high degree of risk and why it should be included in testing. The proposed policy ”would cover everything from engineering to arts to farm school to hospitality to midwifery to design”, Dr Grey said.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. Students come first in Canterbury merger
  2. Public sector continues lag on pay rises
  3. Secret trade deal would harm education
  4. The budget and raising pay
  5. Israeli journalist Amira Hass visits Dunedin

Other news

A roll-up of private tertiary training providers is being prepared for a sharemarket float that could value the combined business at up to $250 million, according to market sources. It is understood to be the latest move in this country by Kern Group, the Australian company behind last year’s listing of New Zealand early childhood education provider Evolve Education Group – NZ Herald

Leading Australian academics say they are shocked by the sudden sacking of the editor of a medical journal after he raised concerns about plans to outsource production of the journal to global publishing company Elsevier – ABC

The Unite Union called off strike action against McDonald’s last week, saying the fast-food chain has joined Burger King and Restaurant Brands in agreeing to stop using controversial zero-hour contracts. Unite spokesman Mike Treen is describing the deal with McDonald’s as historic – TV3

The last decades have seen a rapid growth in the number of students going into higher education in English-speaking countries such as the United States, including those from lower income backgrounds. But has this created more equal societies? University World News

Thansk to Kate Fischer for the image https://www.pinterest.com/pin/494270127826924074/


Print Friendly, PDF & Email