Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Islington UNISON declares dispute with the Council over Random Testing for Drugs and Alchohol Misuse

Letter to Debra Norman, Director of Corporate Resources and Legal Services
From Jane Doolan, Branch Secretary, Islington UNISON Local Government Branch

Dear Debra

As you are aware at our AGM held on the 10th March we passed a motion. We provided copies of this at the last joint secretaries meeting on 30th March. In the light of the mandate from our members and our subsequent branch committee which took place on Thursday 7th April we have been instructed by our members representatives to write to you raising a formal dispute regarding this policy.

We have been holding discussions with you for some time so you should be well aware of our differences with you over this policy.
LBI already have specific policies in place that if used properly would negate the necessity of employing an outside agency to impose random drug and alcohol testing on your employees many of whom are UNISON members.

Even if UNISON was to agree that such a policy was needed, to date you have not provided the promised list of safety critical posts nor have you given a definition of what constitutes "for cause".

UNISON believes this is an ill conceived policy. At no point has any consideration been given as to where this random testing will take place. There is no privacy, confidentiality or dignity in this manner of testing. However, what you have done is propose to appoint 0.5 FTE post to work "alongside Randox and HHP"

You have entered into negotiations with HHP and intend to issue a contract without consulting with the trade unions and in the full knowledge that UNISON were highly likely to place this policy in dispute.

As you know our AGM was very clear it would take industrial action up to and including strike action if this policy is imposed. This was further confirmed unanimously by UNISON representatives on 7th April. We will be advising members and their representatives to attend the various road shows to raise their concerns directly and we will be advising our members not co operate with this policy once imposed.

We think it is atrocious that the council are linking a tragic incident which was related to a persons medical condition to a need to impose what is one of the most intrusive policies we have ever seen.

Members feel very angry about the implementation of this policy and some of them have even gone on to suggest that the reason it is being pushed is because the council have clearly entered into a longer term contract with Randox and have no choice but to impose such a policy.
We have been told that LBI has or is about to sign up with HHP. Had you signed up with them to give support and guidance to management on the existing policies we would not have a problem but in the current circumstances this just demonstrates that come hell or high water you are going to impose this draconian policy on our members.

We have on a number of occasions requested an EIA.To date that has not been forthcoming.There has been very little assurance given in respect of staff taking prescription or over the counter medication or for that matter very little in depth discussion around this issue.
This is of great concern to our members and their view is that the council are taking a very cavalier attitude towards this.

The branch committee have instructed me in the first instance to conduct a consultative ballot of members and I will be taking this up with our RO at the earliest opportunity. However, please take this as formal notification that we are now in dispute with the council.

Jane Doolan

Branch Secretary

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