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Workplace drugs test case in court

Workplace drugs test case in court

An important legal challenge to workplace drug testing goes to court tomorrow.

Six unions are challenging Air New Zealand’s wish to impose workplace drug and alcohol testing on its workforce of 10,000 people.

Because of the precedent-setting nature of the case, it will be heard by a full bench of the Employment Court, and the Council of Trade Unions and Business New Zealand have been given permission to be heard.

A growing number of employers are seeking to introduce workplace drug testing. The unions believe that the law needs to be tested to determine whether such an invasive and potentially humiliating practice is acceptable, and, if so, under what circumstances.

Witnesses for the unions will include Australian occupational medicine specialist Dr Ian Gardner, former Air New Zealand chief medical officer Dr David Black, EPMU national secretary Andrew Little, and Dr Jonathan Koea, a specialist in the collection and use of human tissue and bodily fluids.

The unions taking part in the case are the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU), Service and Food Workers’ Union (SFWU), Flight Attendants and Related Services’ Union (FARSA), the Aviation and Marine Engineers’ Association, the Aviation Industry Officers’ Union and Pegasus.

The unions’ legal team will be led by John Haigh, QC, assisted by Kathryn Beck and EPMU solicitor Helen White.

The hearing is expected to take at least five days.

What: Union challenge to Air New Zealand drugs testing. When: 10am, Tuesday, October 7, 2003, until October 13. Where: Employment Court, 11th floor, Countrywide Building, 280 Centre, 280 Queen St, Auckland (access also off Lorne St).

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