Reduced fuel levy a rip off, loading agent says

By: Greg Bush, Photography by: Greg Bush

Toll and Linfox are short-changing subcontractors through a reduced fuel levy, a Sydney loading agent says

Reduced fuel levy a rip off, loading agent says
Reduced fuel levy a rip off, loading agent says

By Greg Bush

A Sydney loading agent has accused Toll and Linfox of ripping off subcontractors on routes to Brisbane. The agent, who requested anonymity, said the two road transport giants had taken advantage of a drop in diesel prices to reduce fuel levies.

He says previously the fuel levy was around 15 percent, but has recently dropped to 5.9 percent. That equates to the total rate from Sydney to Brisbane being reduced from $1,700 down to $1,644.

"I know the price of fuel has dropped, but no owner-driver can operate on $1,644 to go to Brisbane. You wouldn’t survive for very long."

The agent says he didn’t realise the levy had dropped until a subcontractor, who he had referred to Toll, "phoned and abused hell out of me".

"I thought they were still paying $1,720 to $1,730 a load so I was still supplying trucks. Once I found out they’d dropped back to $1,644, the only time they get a truck now is when we can’t find a load anywhere else. They’re the bottom of the list," he tells Owner//Driver.

"Before that they were one of my preferred ones to load."

The agent says with Toll and Linfox monopolising the road transport industry, there are few options left for owner-drivers.

"They’ve got you over a barrel whether you like it or not.

"Something’s got to be done because these blokes are not going to last. Three years ago I was putting out 25 to 30 trucks a day, I’m now putting out 9 or 10 because all my blokes have gone out of business; they’re parked up."

The agent, who also runs his a fleet of trucks, admits to dropping the fuel levy for his own clients, from 25.6 percent to 14.3 percent.

"That’s only natural because you have to look after your clients. When it goes up you have to hit them, when it comes down you have to give it back to them, but I’m still paying my subcontractors $1,850 to go to Brisbane.

"They’ve got to get a minimum rate of $1,800 to go to Brisbane to survive because the rate out of Brisbane is so low.

"The rate out of Brisbane is $850 up to $1100 if you’re lucky. You have to work on your total turnaround.

"It’s the same when you go to Melbourne. You get a $1,000 to go to Melbourne and you get $1,600 to come up. It’s always been that way."

The agent says with all the new laws and regulations in place, drivers need to be paid more than what they’re currently receiving, but the likes of Toll and Linfox are not convinced.

"They’re dictating to everybody and they’re going to cut their own throat eventually," he says. "When there’s no subbies, how are they going to move their freight?"

A Toll employee from its Road Linehaul division in Sydney told Owner//Driver the fuel levy was dictated by head office.

"It [the levy] was high once when fuel was down and we didn’t take it off them [the subcontractors] then and they didn’t whinge, but they were getting more than what they should have been," he says.

Nevertheless, he believes the overall rates are "reasonable". "Obviously if they’re not happy doing it, don’t do it."

Over at Linfox’s Sydney depot, the response was more sympathetic to the owner-drivers. An employee from the company says
some subcontractors just "laugh at me" when advised of the rate.

The Linfox employee, who did not wish to be named, says the linehaul rates are "sh*t".

"It’s not fair," she says. "I have fights with the management all the time about it."

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