Riteway granted stay on court proceedings

Industrial court halts proceedings against Riteway Transport, which is opposing unfair contract claims from three owner-drivers

Riteway granted stay on court proceedings
Riteway granted stay on court proceedings
By Brad Gardner | March 9, 2009

The NSW Industrial Relations Court has halted proceedings against Riteway Transport, which is opposing an unfair contract claim from three independent contractors.

L & D Lowe Transport, Tambo Waters and Keldote are pushing for compensation and severance payments after they were terminated for refusing to comply with a request from Riteway to upgrade their vehicles.

As well as seeking unfair contract damages from Riteway in the Federal Magistrates Court, the three contractors argue they are entitled to a redundancy payment under the Transport Redundancy (State) Contract Determination in the Industrial Court, which Riteway opposes.

But Justice Anna Backman says delaying decision until May 19 "could avoid unnecessary duplication" of evidence because a ruling on the matters before the Federal Magistrates Court will be made on March 31.

The original case in August last year heard Riteway had the power to force the contractors to upgrade their vehicles but excused it from having to pay a higher freight rate to compensate for increased maintenance and running costs.

L & D Lowe Transport, Tambo Waters and Keldote refused to shift to 12-pallet roll-back tautliners with a rear combination B-double, prompting Riteway to end the contract with the three owner-drivers.

In the original case, Riteway was ordered to vary the contracts but filed a successful appeal a month later to have the order revoked.

This in turn lead the Federal Magistrates Court to call for submissions on what orders should be made, delaying a decision until the end of March.

The three contractors want a number of variations made, including replacing the $20,000 goodwill contractual term with a requirement that the company buy the owner-driver’s prime mover and trailer for an amount equal to their preceding year’s income.

The owner-drivers also proposed an alternative, arguing that Riteway should compensate those terminated with an amount equal to their income adjusted to account for the market value of the prime mover and trailer.

The contractors submitted that the provision requiring contractors to upgrade their vehicle every five years without compensation to be varied to require Riteway to pay the net cost of new equipment.

Under the current arrangement, Riteway can force drivers to replace their vehicle every five years. It can also choose whether to extend this period on a yearly basis for a maximum vehicle life of eight years.

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