Supreme Court protects workers' privacy rights

OTTAWA, June 14, 2013 /CNW/ - Today's Supreme Court decision on mandatory random alcohol testing is a victory in the battle to protect workers' privacy rights, says Dave Coles, President of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada.

"Random alcohol testing is a humiliating invasion of an individual's privacy that has no proven impact on workplace safety," says Coles.

In 2006, Irving Pulp and Paper Limited in Saint John, N.B., unilaterally adopted a policy of mandatory random alcohol testing for employees in safety sensitive positions. CEP Local 30 filed a grievance challenging the policy after a worker was chosen randomly by a computer program to take a breathalyzer test. The test showed a blood alcohol level of zero but the worker said the test was humiliating and unfair.

"The Supreme Court's decision makes it clear that employers can't simply impose random alcohol testing on their workforce, they need to negotiate this question," said Coles.

"Our union's long-standing position is that the best way to resolve social problems such as alcohol or drug abuse is to address the root cause of the problem", said Coles. "Rather than attack the victim, Corporate Canada needs to do a better job in offering employee assistance programs, drug education and health promotion programs."

"Its time to work on the root causes of addiction and abuse and this demands broadly-based programs that can't simply be delt in a law and order way", said Coles.

SOURCE: COMMUNICATIONS, ENERGY AND PAPERWORKERS UNION OF CANADA

For further information:

Dave Coles (613) 299-5628