TWU appeal against WA Freight Group EBA falls over

Fair Work Australia dismisses TWU attempt to stop the introduction of WA Freightlines’ new enterprise bargaining agreement

By Brad Gardner | June 22, 2011

Fair Work Australia has given the all clear to WA Freight Group to implement its new enterprise agreement, dismissing a union attempt to stop its introduction.

The industrial umpire threw out the Transport Workers Union’s (TWU) appeal against a decision in December last year by Commissioner Bruce Williams to approve the WA Freight Group Line Haul Division Enterprise Agreement.

The TWU raised concerns over pay rates for two-up drivers when it earlier this year appealed Williams' decision.

But Justice Geoffrey Giudice rejected the TWU's claim that the wages outlined under the agreement were lower than those stipulated in the Road Transport (Long Distance Operations) Award.

"It appeared that the substance of the TWU’s complaint is based not on a comparison with the hourly rate in the award but a comparison with rates applying generally in the industry to drivers working two-up," Giudice says.

He ruled that the TWU’s submission focusing on wages for two-up drivers "was in reality misdirected".

"No attempt was made to come to grips with how time spent in the cabin resting should be taken into account for wages purpose," Giudice says.

However, he added that the practice of two-up driving might need to be scrutinised in a future case.

"It may be that the practice of operating with two drivers, which is reasonably common in the long distance sector of the road transport industry, will require further examination in some future case," Giudice says.

Fair Work Australia also dismissed the TWU’s claim the agreement should not have passed because a majority of employees did not vote in favour of it.

One reference to the agreement stated it would cover 70 employees, while another claimed 64 workers would be bound by it.

Giudice says 22 of the 42 votes were in favour of the agreement.

The agreement covers drivers employed by WA Freight Group-owned businesses Jolley’s Transport Services and WA Freightlines.

The agreement is due to run for three years. It will increase the km rate for drivers each financial year by 3 percent or CPI, whichever is higher.

The two-up km rate for interstate drivers ranges from 19 cents up to 21 cents, while the intrastate figure begins at 18 cents and goes up to 20 cents.

Under the agreement, the single interstate km rate begins at 36 cents and goes up to 38 cents depending on how many years the driver has been with the company.

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