Tea ladies to be drug tested

Written By: - Date published: 10:13 am, May 11th, 2012 - 45 comments
Categories: don brash, national, public services, tourism - Tags:

 Minister of Labour Kate Wilkinson seems to be living  in an alternative universe, with her comment on Checkpoint yesterday that tea ladies in the adventure tourism industry could be drug tested:

“The boss might be tested, it could be his turn or it could be the tea lady.”

We’ll take it as a given that Kate assumes the boss is a man but I do wonder just how connected to the work force, or you know…real life she is if she believes that tea ladies have survived the last three decades.

However at least we know she’s got a neighbour back there in Pleasantville; Don Brash is no doubt queuing outside his local post office right now, waiting for work.

And who does the government think is actually going to do all this testing and implementing new regualtion?  The same two (or is it one now?) DOL mining safety inspectors?




45 comments on “Tea ladies to be drug tested”

  1. ghostwhowalksnz 1

    Kate Wilkinson was answering questions ? On Checkpoint ?

    We truly have entered a parallel universe

  2. Carol 2

    real life she is if she believes that tea ladies have survived the last three decades.

    Or maybe she’s stuck in a different time warp and is referring to the “old fashioned US slang” meaning of “tea”


  3. Daveo 3

    Start at the top! Test the tourism minister randomly once a week! I swear he’d fail on alcohol half the time.

  4. Pascal's bookie 4

    How long would we have an adventure tourist industry if this became reality?

  5. Gareth 5

    The employers I would say, using one of the drug testing labs like this one http://www.nzdda.co.nz/ It’s fairly standard practise in a lot of industries these days and employers are happy to pay to help ensure a safe workplace.
    Anyone who heads to work pissed,hungover or stoned is a potential danger to themselves and their workmates. Unfortunately there seem to be enough people who think it acceptable to turn up to work under the influence that such draconian measures are necessary.

    • framu 5.1

      “Unfortunately there seem to be enough people who think it acceptable to turn up to work under the influence”

      build that strawman gareth

    • vto 5.2

      “Unfortunately there seem to be enough people who think it acceptable to turn up to work under the influence”

      How many Gareth? How many do you know personally? Any? Please provide a number that you know of. Otherwise all there is is hot air…

      • Gareth 5.2.1

        I know of seven who failed random tests on a single Wellington construction site I worked on last year…
        There were several I represented as a union delegate around 7 years 8 years ago. The outcome in that case was a requirement to undertake counselling and to submit regular drug tests for 6 months.

        • Te Reo Putake

          How many of them were stoned?

          • Gareth

            I couldn’t say for sure, the painter did say he was fucked after he did the test as he’d had a wake n bake in the morning. Outside of that I don’t know….
            Of the earlier cases 3 were tested under suspicion of been stoned…
            When I started out as an apprentice a couple of the guys would ‘smoke up’ through out the day. It was a bloody difficult situation for a 17yr old and to be fair I was happy when my time on the aforementioned crew finished….

            • McFlock

              “seven who failed random tests”
              “3 were tested under suspicion of been stoned”
              Besides the dissonance between “random” (test everybody) and “suspicion” (test with a good reason), your point seems to be that the test in at least three of the cases was simply to confirm suspicions about impairment? Sounds like vaguely competent management – although the less expensive solution than testing would be to make reasonable demands (within safety) and bung them through the disciplinary process when they fail to achieve.

    • McFlock 5.3

      What about fatigue?
      Tell you what, all of the above have similar effects in that they limit fine motor control, attention and  so on. If and only if it’s a safety issue, how about actual “sobriety” tests rather than tests for drugs which might not even affect the employee’s ability to work safely and competently.
      A drug testing regime – even one for “tea ladies” – by employers is pointless. If the employee cannot perform their tasks, that can be detected by any halfway competent manager.  And if they can perform their workplace tasks safely, what business is it of the employer?

      • higherstandard 5.3.1

        Plenty of people can no doubt perform their tasks well while under the influence of all types of stimulants, depressants or while tired or ill, however, those same people may not be able to perform to the expected levels should something unexpected occur.

        • McFlock

          The point was that if they are impaired for any reason, that is the safety issue and what should be tested. Not evidence of having something in possibly minute quantities sometime previously, akin to the old thing about poppy seeds from a bun showing up on an opiate test.
          Drug tests pick up only a few causes of impairment for the sake of workplace humiliation and stress. Joy.

          • higherstandard

            I may be misunderstanding you- but isn’t that a bit ‘after the horse has bolted’ type testing ?

            I’m all for random testing for those involved in the utilisation of heavy machinery, transport ing themselves or others and many other professions with a mandatory fine or stand down for those having found to have used potentially performance altering substances.

            • McFlock

              Actually, it’s the drug testing that’s “after the horse has bolted”. 
              Let’s look at truck drivers – if safety is the issue, then a drug test might catch someone who hasn’t learned a trick or two from professional athletes. There might be a deterrent effect, but there will also be the harm caused by false positives or trace-amounts due to social exposure, poppy seeds, and the like. Drug screening also fails to catch things like fatigue, tendency to text, or medical conditions. 
              How about a simple gadget that, before each shift or run, tests their reaction time, fine motor control and maybe problem solving? A 3-5 minute test administered onsite, final results are immediate, if they fail they get a break to sort themselves out (maybe they just got distracted, whatever), 3 fails in a row and they get stood down, with various health/disciplinary followups. And maybe 3 separate fails in a week or month and they get additional training or whatever to find out what the issue is. And it encourages a culture of safety, rather than big brother.

              • higherstandard

                Sorry, I can see where you are coming from and can agree that the ‘gadget test’ would certainly be very useful in many industries and professions but it doesn’t mitigate the potential for drug impairment after the test or passing the test while under the influence.

                I can see no compelling reason why persons shouldn’t be drug tested in certain professions/positions where public safety is an issue and stood down/sacked if found to have a positive test.

                • McFlock

                  Um – if they pass the impairment test, they’re not impaired.
                  If they fail the drug test, they might not be impaired – it’s just something they did on the weekend (or people they were around).
                  The employer has no right to control what an employee does at home.
                  The employee should not have to pee in a cup in front of another person, just in case they might be doing something in their own home that the employer doesn’t like. 
                  If I’ve done nothing wrong, I might well have something to hide – e.g. my tiny dick (or the warts on it, at least. Should they be green?).

                  • higherstandard

                    No I disagree.

                    We do after all randomly test members of the public in order to promote and protect public safety, I can’t see why the same test shouldn’t apply within the employment sector.

                    As I said though I do like your ‘gadget test’.

                    • McFlock

                      We test drivers for a specific, unambiguous level of alcohol that causes detectable impairment at the time of detection, while they are doing something that safety requires them be unimpaired.
                      As has been pointed out, I’m not sure any drug test other than alcohol can make that claim – we don’t have the data to determine such a level, AFAIK. And do all the places with mandatory drug tests include alcohol in those tests?

              • rosy

                I think this is a particularly good idea, McFlock.

                Do you know if this type of testing is in practice anywhere?

                • McFlock

                  no idea at all. Just seems logical to me, though.
                  You’d need a couple of tests that vary (so they can’t be memorised or muscle-memory trained), and a large testing base over time. But no reason why it couldn’t be done. 

                  • rosy

                    Very logical indeed – poor sleep patterns and prescription drugs are two things that immediately came to mind as impairments that drugs testing won’t pick up.

                    I might have to do a little googling to see what’s around.

                    • rosy

                      Impairment testing is apparently a small field. This (U.S) study could find only 18 employers who used it in says it’s been successful at the 14 sites who agreed to be surveyed (all named).

                      t the evidence does show that impairment testing is more than a good idea. Impairment testing systems from several manufacturers have been used by 18 different employers, in a wide variety of industries over a span of 10 years. The experience of these employers demonstrates that impairment testing works in practice, not just in theory…..

                      … Our study also gave us a glimpse of the causes of impairment from an employer’s standpoint. Academic research has consistently found that fatigue is the major cause of accidents, and that illegal drug use is among the least common causes. Our input from employers was entirely consistent. Of the 7 employers who responded to this question, 4 reported that fatigue was the most common cause of impairment. The remaining 3 employers named illness, alcohol, and drugs as the most common.

            • framu

              “used potentially performance altering substances”

              problem is the testing doesnt measure whether a substance is present at high enough levels to impair performance.
              That level hasnt been quantified for other drugs like it has for alcohol.

              All it measures is the presence of a substance at a high enough level to be picked up by the test.

              No one should be turning up to work under the influence of anything (well except coffee), but untill we can reliably say “you need to register X level of drug Y to be considered impaired” then we should stick to “impairment/cognitive testing” not “presence of substance testing”

  6. Don’t you think this is a little bit silly?  She said tea-lady?! Everyone point and sneer!

    Why not, you know, focus on her actual message as opposed to her antiquated method of delivery. Isn’t that what adults do?.

    (This comment is directed at the author not the commentators)

    • tc 6.1

      ‘her antiquated method of delivery’ fits nicely with her antiquated atitudes and abilities as a minster so top marks for consistency from Grandma Kate.

  7. vto 7

    I was appalled at the way the CAA (I think it is) talked about drugs in the balloon pilot’s system and let everybody take that as meaning he was stoned. They didn’t have any detail arouind it like quantities, time it had been in the system, etc. They lust let it float out there as a big fucking great smudge on the deceased pilot. That is unbalanced in the extreme and it is disgusting. The bureaucrat who did that should be sacked.

  8. insider 8

    Jenny is very out of touch if she thinks this approach is anything dramatic or unusual.

    Tea ladies have been subject to drug and alcohol testing in a number of my workplaces for years. So have the CEOs. Basically the philosophy is one in-all in – I’d have thought a union official would have applauded such an approach.

    • Campbell Larsen 8.1

      Ahh – I don’t know what workplaces you are referring to but usually the testing is limited to safety sensitive roles, meaning that CEO’s are usually exempt.
      Do you really think that everyone should be randomly drug tested? Because that is dramatic, unusual, and draconian.

      • Pascal's bookie 8.1.1


      • insider 8.1.2

        Cambell, I suggest you go and talk to companies like Air NZ, most of the oilcos, major construction, electricity to get acquainted with ‘usual’. Many don’t even allow alcohol on any site – office or operational.

        What usually happens is that those in sensitive positions get tested more. Those not in such positions get tested but rarely – however they are always subject to the possibility.

        • Campbell Larsen

          Love to see the stats on that one insider – if it were the case that CEO’s and upper management were subject to more than just the possibility then we would be seeing a much greater backlash against such measures. However typically this kind of treatment is reserved for those who are least able to voice their displeasure without fear of reprisal at what remains a significant intrusion into ones private life.

          • Colonial Viper

            But surely a business lunch between executives, their bankers and senior business colleagues would not be complete without a few drinks on the table.

            It would be uncivilised to go without; there are expectations to live up to.

          • insider

            Campbell I saw a report that testing number had doubled in the last year but not who was being tested and when. I can tell you I have only ever been tested on starting employment as I’ve never been in safety sensitive positions, but I know I’ve been subject to the possibility for many many years as have all colleagues some of whom were tested. And I do know colleagues who have tested positive and lost jobs, I know of people who did not manage to get past the first day because of such and those who have suddenly walked from jobs the morning the tester turned up and their ‘name came up in the ballot’.

            • McFlock

              That last bit’s the perfect example – they walk from the job to avoid being tested, but the fact that they still had the job prior to testing indicates that the test itself was not indicative of workplace performance – unless your manager was crap. In which case it’s not the employee who should walk.

              • insider

                It’s not about performance today, it is about risk management for tomorrow. Plenty of drunk drivers claim they always get home safely so it is ok to keep drinking and driving. You seem to be endorsing the approach of ‘if I got through the day I wasn’t impaired’. I think it is a bit more complex than that.

                • McFlock

                  Nope, not at all.
                  I’m saying that assuming impairment on the basis of the mere hint of prior use is unfair, particularly when that testing methodology does not even cover all possible sources of performance impairment.
                  I’m saying that if it is important for safety or performance reasons that people turn up to work unimpaired, test whether they are impaired. Not whether they party hard.
                  If I took heroin, I’d be high for a short time, but the traces would be in my system for a long time. Unlike alcohol, where presence over a certain level reasonably implies impairment. 
                  Drug testing has a side-effect of demonstrating employer control over what the employee does in their spare time, as well as implying suspicion and involving intimate functions. But I’m sure that’s just a happy outcome for managers who are so incompetent they can’t tell if someone’s turned up to work smashed out out of their gourd. 

            • Campbell Larsen

              Drug testing is a big money spinner for the companies doing the testing. Perhaps now is a good time to consider whether the prime concern here is actually safety or if it is rather just a reflection of pro testing lobbyists seeking profit for their clients and the hard line, militant, anti-drug and anti-common sense stance of of the Nats.

              • insider

                More likely it is risk aversion/management by managers. The US legal/corporate culture I think is driving it

                • Adele

                  Drug testing is usually limited to safety-sensitive areas – which applies to Air NZ too. I see no rationale under risk management as to why a business would introduce company-wide drug testing. I would say that such a policy is a risk in itself.as it would be hard to justify under the test of reasonableness. Why would you want to drug test someone that presents limited risk to the organisation based on the duties they perform. Is a stoner in charge of a teacup that much of a risk?

                  Also, I confidently say that most upper management are not drug-tested.

    • felix 8.2

      insider: “Tea ladies have been subject to drug and alcohol testing in a number of my workplaces for years.”

      Where do you work that actually has “tea ladies” and can you get me a job there?

      I fricking love tea.

  9. captain hook 9

    the sooner cannabis is legalised then the sooner penalties for misuse can be introduced.
    While it is subject to blanket prohibition then everybody who wants to use it is reduced to hdiing in the bushes and pretending that all is jake when obviously it is not.
    As for the CAA. Letting the government introduce rules that owners are responsible for their own maintenance and inspections is just like giving the inmates the keys.
    thre is something about this country that is all arse up and back to front..Nobody knows how to do anything properly and as soon as anything happens then the kneejerk sets in, five minutes on RNZ in the morning and its all back to square one immediately.
    Its worse than some banana republic because we are supposed to be educated and intelligent but on closer inspection we just purchasers of bills of goods and crappy toys that are supposed to complete us but all they do is distract us and infantilise us.
    The nation is on the wonk.

  10. joe90 10

    Interestingly Talleys Imlay works is re-employing people who they’d previously dismissed and among them are a few who were sacked after failing drug tests.

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