Letter to the editor

I WRITE on behalf of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union – Mining & Energy Division for Queensland in regards to Michael White’s assertions concerning the union’s perspective on fitness for work.

Staff Reporter

While some other union sectors might be having issues with drug testing, let me make this quite clear – the CFMEU only deals with the issues of impairment through the current Queensland safety and health legislation.

Mr White (click here to see comments).needs to acquaint himself with the relevant legislation for coal mining in Queensland, prior to making such preposterous remarks. If Mr White has taken the time to familiarise himself with the fitness for work provisions, he would realise that alcohol, fatigue, other physical, drugs and psychological impairment are part and parcel when dealing with fitness for work.

I have been involved in developing these required legislative procedures for coal mines in Queensland, from a safety perspective which is my role.

The assertions made by Mr White are far from reality when it comes to the development of said procedures. What I see in Mr White’s comment is a self-interest statement to better the returns to the shareholders of the company and at the same time use a highly emotive issue to attract attention to the product he is pushing. This also has been done by other self-interest groups intent on furthering their product sales.

One statement that Mr White does make that I agree with is education and training. Do you think for one minute that the Victorian, New South Wales or Queensland Police services would not have done extensive research, education and training into roadside drug testing, prior to it now being a community standard? The answer is an easy “yes”. As with the above states’ education and research, we utilise the same people and information in educating ourselves and our workforce.

As we do not live in a communist state where all your daily activities are monitored, we through legislation look at the effects of impairment at the time of being at work. What people do outside of their workplace is their business – not ours or [the business of] any mining companies. Would Mr White enjoy being alcohol tested in his lounge room on a Saturday night – I would think not.

We, as industry, have lost sight of the intention of legislation which is to ensure that our coal mine workers come to work in a fit and proper state and to return the same. We are not commissaries, secret service agents or police officers – test by all means but do it in accordance with relevant state legislation.

Yours in mining safely

Tim Whyte

Industry Safety and Health Representative

District Union Inspector

Construction, Forestry, Mining & Energy Union (Mining & Energy Division)

Queensland District Branch

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