30 May 2014
Carter Holt Harvey breached workers’ rights in mass drug testing at Nelson mill
Workers at Carter Holt Harvey’s Nelson mill have won a victory after invasive, unfair drug testing
The Employment Relations Authority determined that 76 EPMU members working at the mill had their rights breached when Carter Holt Harvey imposed urine testing on a massive scale after two cannabis plants were found growing in the grounds outside the sawmill buildings.
“This is a victory for our members, and a victory for common decency and respect,” says Ron Angel, EPMU national industry organiser for timber workers. “We’ve been concerned about the whole drug testing regime at Carter Holt Harvey for some time, and clearly our concerns were justified.”
The ERA found that employees had been unjustifiably disadvantaged, and Carter Holt Harvey had breached its duty of good faith by forcing them to undergo drug testing that was not only invasive but also illegal. The practices of drug testing company NZDDA were also brought into question.
“We absolutely support good health and safety practice in the workplace,” says Ron Angel. “But drug testing has to be about proving actual impairment at work – not treating workers as guilty until proven innocent.
The company has been sent back to mediation with the union to reach agreement on the amount of compensation to pay to each employee.