09 Gar­bos on the drugs

Caught while do­ing their rounds

Sunday Herald Sun - - NEWS - ALEKS DEVIC

GARBAGE truck driv­ers have been caught with drugs in their sys­tem dur­ing sub­ur­ban runs but have kept their li­cences.

Drugs de­tected in work­place urine sam­ples in­clude cannabis, metham­phetamine and tran­quil­lis­ers.

The six driv­ers caught this year all worked for in­ner-city coun­cil More­land, said se­nior sources for coun­cil rub­bish con­trac­tor City­wide.

But the com­pany is not re­quired to tell po­lice of the pos­i­tive drug tests, al­low­ing the driv­ers to avoid fines, loss of li­cence and/or job and a crim­i­nal con­vic­tion.

City­wide chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Chris Camp­bell said em­ploy­ees were stood down af­ter ini­tial pos­i­tive tests and could not work un­til a drugfree sam­ple was re­turned.

“As part of the re­turn to work pro­gram, they are then sub­ject to more fre­quent mon­i­tor­ing and test­ing,” he said.

“Fur­ther trans­gres­sions would re­sult in ter­mi­na­tion of that per­son’s em­ploy­ment.

“Each sit­u­a­tion is as­sessed and man­aged on a case-by­case ba­sis.

“City­wide acts quickly and ap­pro­pri­ately to en­sure the safety of our work­ers and the com­mu­nity.”

City­wide would not com­ment on the ex­act num­ber of drug-driv­ing gar­bos, how many of the driv­ers had re­of­fended or how many had re­turned to work.

But one City­wide source said the firm was risk­ing lives by al­low­ing drug-prone driv­ers back to work.

“They are driv­ing 25-tonne trucks when full on res­i­den­tial streets — where is the duty of care to ratepay­ers by al­low­ing th­ese guys back to work even though some have re­peat­edly tested pos­i­tive to drugs?” the source said.

Mr Camp­bell de­nied there was a wide­spread drug prob­lem among City­wide work­ers.

“Our re­sults are broadly sim­i­lar to those found in the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion,” he said.

Po­lice said drugs had now over­taken al­co­hol as the lead­ing fac­tor in road deaths in Vic­to­ria.

More­land City Coun­cil was un­aware the garbage con­tac­tor em­ployed driv­ers that had re­turned pos­i­tive drugs tests while work­ing.

But it is not the first time. In 2015, a More­land garbo tested pos­i­tive be­fore his 5am shift. And the con­trac­tor called in to re­place him was also sent home af­ter he ar­rived with al­co­hol in his sys­tem.

Ratepay­ers Vic­to­ria vice pres­i­dent Frank Sul­li­van said po­lice should be no­ti­fied when the driv­ers were caught.

“Why should they be pro­tected by an in­ter­nal sys­tem?” he said. “It’s not ac­cept­able.”

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