Illawarra transport and construction unions have rejected claims that they oppose workplace testing for ice and other drugs.
In a submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement's inquiry into ice, the Australian Industry Group (AIG) claimed unions in the transport and construction areas were opposed to workplace drug and alcohol testing.
"Unions need to drop their opposition and accept drug and alcohol testing regimes that will deter drug and alcohol use and lead to safer working environments," AIG chief executive Innes Willox said.
"They need to work with employers to make drug and alcohol testing regimes effective."
Transport Workers' Union (TWU) Illawarra secretary Nick McIntosh said the claim was "one of the biggest loads of crap" he had heard.
"The transport industry's got to be one of the most drug and alcohol-tested industries there are," he said.
"Not only have you got your normal RBTs [random breath testings], you've got the heavy vehicle inspections where you can get tested. And a lot of the time there are random tests that can happen at any point in the truck yards.
"Most companies I know have drug and alcohol policies, and a lot of companies, whenever there's an incident or a near miss, will have the driver drug and alcohol-tested."
The TWU was not opposed to drug and alcohol testing, but wanted to ensure it was truly random and that it was not used to target staff, Mr McIntosh said. He also said the union was against urine testing, saying it showed up recreational use, outside of work.
"What we say is if it's about finding people under the influence at work, which we have no problem with because we don't want people under the influence of drugs or alcohol working, then you do swab testing," he said. "That's what picks up whether people are under the influence or not."
The use of drugs in the transport industry was no worse than in any other segment of society, Mr McIntosh said. He suggested that, if anyone was using on the job, it was because they were being forced to work excessive hours.
"If someone is taking speed, the reason they're doing it is because they need to be on the road for so many hours," he said.
"If you need to work 12 to 14 hours, you're not taking speed. If you have to work 20 hours because you've got to wait five hours at a distribution centre and not getting paid, that's when people are taking it."
Construction Forestry Mining & Energy Union NSW branch official Mick Lane said they were not opposed to drug testing for construction workers, as long as it was done via swab. He called urine testing "excessive".
Testing in the construction industry was becoming more common, Mr Lane said. "There's an awful lot of it that's coming in.
"We don't find too much of that on general construction sites but on the major ones more of that is happening on a regular basis.
"On some sites it's a blow in the bag and record your reading before you walk through the gate."
He accepted drug use was common among construction workers.
"We've got a broad range of society that work on the building sites and we're certainly not immune to these problems," Mr Lane said.
"I'd suggest that it's just recreational stuff that gets out of control. To that effect we've got a drug and rehab program for our members and families in Sydney which is there for their use if they've put their hand up and requested some assistance."