Barbaric Drug Testing Stopped and Jobs Saved
In March 2019, approximately 60 paramedics from Gippsland were subjected to barbaric hair testing at a station after an audit of the drug ketamine revealed a discrepancy in the stock.
It is standard practice by Ambulance Victoria to test paramedics usually with a urine or saliva test when drugs are missing. However, for reasons unknown, AV decided to go straight to hair testing.
The paramedics were left humiliated and in tears after a dodgy AV drug testing contractor “butchered” the tests, leaving them with bald spots as large as 50 cent coins. To compound the injuries suffered, AV provided no support to staff and instead told them they would be considered guilty if they did not partake in the testing.
One paramedic said, “I was absolutely distraught and the worst part of it is word spread so quickly around the whole organisation that everyone instantly assumed I must be guilty of something”.
Although the testing was called off after AEAV contacted senior Ambulance Victoria management, up to 24 people already had their hair samples taken at the station.
Despite the horrendous results of the testing on paramedics, both mentally and physically, Ambulance Victoria has failed to offer any meaningful apology and instead has only offered up excuses diverting blame away from themselves and attempting to blame others.
AEAV members refused to let AV get away with this and decided to stand up and tell their story.
They wrote to AV CEO Tony Walker questioning his decision to remain silent throughout the ordeal and requested he attend the station in person to face up to his staff and explain how the testing could go so wrong. Unsurprisingly, he did not respond.
Additionally, the Gippsland paramedics united to support the staff targeted by the barbaric drug testing and together with the AEAV’s legal team mounted a 100 page defence. Consequently, AV backed off from their investigation.
As a result of members standing up together, numerous jobs were saved and members are now united in a bargaining claim to stop any barbaric drug tests like this ever happening again.
Our bargaining claim demands that AV set requirements in the new Agreement for:
- Consent requirements
- Agreed drug testing providers
- Consultations with staff and the union regarding rights and obligations prior to testing
By AEAV members uniting to stand up against being mistreated and disrespected they have shown that when we stand together and as a union, we win.