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Morgan demands random drug testing provisions be removed from Health and Safety bill

23 November, 2004

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade and Employment Arthur Morgan T.D. today urged the Government to remove provisions for random drug testing from the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Bill 2004. Speaking during Committee stage of the Bill Deputy Morgan pointed to threat which poorly drafted provisions for random drug testing posed to the rights of workers and the fundamental problems which would arise if the provision was passed into law.

Deputy Morgan said

"The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Bill 2004 attempts to deal with the matter of drug testing of employees in 24 words. In other jurisdiction legislation in relation to drug testing is lengthy, specific and comprehensive in order to avoid misuse of the provisions and in order to protect the rights of workers.

"The provisions in this Bill do not specify that the employer must have reasonable suspicion that the person is intoxicated. Currently the Gardaí must have reasonable suspicion prior to testing a driver for intoxication. The former Minister for Transport was proposing that a provision for random testing would be included in the Road Traffic Bill and sources close to the Minister were quoted as saying there was also a possibility that the Bill may be referred by the President to the Supreme Court because of the inclusion of random testing.

"The provisions in this Bill do not restrict the practice of drug and alcohol testing to person in safety sensitive jobs nor does it specify the level of the intoxicant e.g. the Railway Safety Bill Part 9 contains very specific provisions in relation to alcohol. Also important to note that there is no evidence that testing has a deterrent effect and may only have a legitimate role in safety critical jobs.

"The Irish Council for Civil Liberties has concluded from its examination of this Bill that Section 13 (c) is not compatible with the European Convention of Human Rights. It is clear that this provision are open to abuse and have very serious implications for the rights of workers. Sinn Féin is opposing the inclusion of this provision in the Bill" ENDS

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