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Drug Tests Meet With Criticism

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
The data protection commissioner has reacted with scepticism to the news that Swiss Federal Railways are routinely subjecting their workers to drug tests.

According to a report on Swiss television on Friday, all train drivers and conductors under the age of 40 must undertake regular urine tests to check for the presence of cannabis.

This is so that they can come to work with a "clear head", Federal Railways spokesman Roland Binz told the 10vor10 news programme.

According to the report, the company says it does not accept smoking of cannabis during or outside work times and has called for 100 per cent abstinence.

If the test is found to be positive, the affected driver has to sign a contract stating they will not use drugs at any time.

Binz confirmed to the Swiss news agency on Saturday that the tests took place as part of routine health checks, which also included all those involved in safety such as technicians and mechanics, as well as train personnel.

The decision to check those under 40 was taken as it was thought that older employees were less likely to smoke cannabis.

Binz denied that the company was snooping around in employees' private lives, saying that the requirement to come to work in a sober and work ready state was part of workers' contracts.

He conceded that not all employees liked the tests, but drug use was normally not a problem due to the amount of responsibility involved in the job.

Drugs only?

Swiss Federal Data Protection Commissioner Hanspeter Thür told the Swiss news agency that he was not convinced about the move.

"I can't understand why the test is only limited to illegal drugs," he said, adding that alcohol abuse would also be another important problem.

Thür said that it could not be ruled out that over 40s might also use drugs. Also unacceptable were the effects on Federal Railways' employees private lives.

"I can't see that months after spare time cannabis consumption there is going to be a safety problem," he said.

Thür plans to check the legality of the tests and will wait for reaction from the Federal Railways.

His is not the only critical voice. Thomas Geiser, professor of employment law at St Gallen University, told the television report that he thought the intrusion into private life was "legally untenable".

For its part, the Transport Personnel Union said on Saturday that it in principle agreed with the tests, but it had some doubts about the abstinence contract for reasons of privacy.



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Source: SwissInfo
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Website: swissinfo - Critics fume over Railways drug tests
 
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