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The Hypocrisy of the Legal Drug Barons

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Ned K.

Recently a worker who works for a large multinational alcoholic beverage manufacturer went to a party on a Saturday night and had a few drinks and consumed another non-alcoholic recreational drug. He went to work on Monday morning and the company drug tested him.

The test showed the remnants of the drug in his system still. He explained to the boss exactly what he had taken and that it was on Saturday night, two days before out of working time. The boss said thanks for your honesty but you are sacked for breach of the company's drug and alcohol policy! The worker had been employed there for nearly twenty years and had no previous record of drug consumption.

Just like that a worker's livelihood was taken away by a multinational corporation that makes millions of dollars out of manufacturing a drug, being an alcoholic beverage. Their drug is legal and they get off with "no charge" when thousands of lives, especially Indigenous lives, are ruined by their production for profit. They spend millions on encouraging and enticing people to consume their drugs and then have the audacity to take away a worker's livelihood for taking a non-alcoholic stimulant at a party on a Saturday night!

Why do workers resort to excessive alcohol or try this or that other drug? Many do this to escape the exploitative experience of their work for the big corporations like his employer.

Companies like this hypocritical beverage producer are trying to incorporate their drug and alcohol policies in Enterprise Agreements to give them more legal status. This should be opposed because these policies are not designed to keep workers healthy and they are not concerned with workers' safety.

If a policy is required then it should be an impairment policy rather than a drug and alcohol testing regime. An impairment policy will show if a worker is unable to work safely rather than if the worker has alcohol or drugs in his/her system. Employers don’t like using the impairment system because it also shows up when workers are too tired or stressed from overwork. An easy impairment test can be done on a computer or moving a looped wire around a stationary twisted power wire so when there is contact a noise is made. They can be bought as kids’ games and are more efficient and cheaper than drug tests.

Their real intent of employers is for the bosses to have a ready-made 'weapon' to get rid of workers they don't want or like. If the situation had applied to the Managing Director, would he have been sacked? It’s very doubtful if he would have been.

It comes down to a class question. If workers were in control of what they produce in society they would find a way to assist individuals straying down the wrong path in a way that does not take away their livelihood. 

Sacking workers only leads to greater potential for the individual going in to a downward spiral of depression, broken family, loss of self-esteem and resorting to more drugs of an even more dangerous type.


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