The government’s official drivers are ready to walk instead of accepting a raft of tough new conditions that are being imposed.
The state government’s fleet of official drivers have threatened to quit after being told they will have to undergo drug tests “similar to that of an Olympic athlete”, be available around the clock and to drink coffee when tired.
The Sunday Telegraph can reveal about half of the 30 or so ministerial drivers are preparing to take voluntary redundancy instead of accepting a raft of tough new conditions that are being imposed.
A source close to the ministerial driving pool said drivers felt insulted at the proposed new conditions, given many had served loyally for decades.
The drivers believe the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet conditions, which are subject to ongoing discussions between the Public Service Association (PSA) and government, are designed to target individual drivers.
“We have been in discussion over these and are soon to provide final comments,” a union source said.
“While they are arguing this is all about work health and safety, the drivers strongly believe they will be used to exit anyone they don’t like.”
There is also suspicion the conditions may be used to get rid of all the drivers in place of a cheaper pool arrangement.
The conditions include drivers being forced to make their own way to Parliament House to collect a ministerial car before picking up a minister instead of having the official car at home.
On the issue of fatigue, the drivers say the conditions reference the “strategic use of caffeine” as a way those undertaking long hours can manage tiredness.
The drivers stress that even when they take the ministerial cars home, they are banned from using them privately.
The conditions also involve drivers undergoing new, gruelling drug and alcohol testing and an Olympic athlete-style list of over-the-counter and prescription drugs they may or may not take when driving.
PSA General Secretary Stewart Little said drivers deserved better than to be “treated like a taxi service”.