Reliance Transport faces further scrutiny from TWU

By: Brad Gardner

TWU delegate plans a sweep of Toll IPEC's Moorebank site to see if owner-drivers are receiving site rates.


The transport company that underpaid an owner-driver will come under union scrutiny in the coming weeks to see if any other cases of underpayments are occurring.

Reliance Transport recently reimbursed Steve Georges $24,800 after the New South Wales Transport Workers Union (TWU) claimed the owner-driver was incorrectly paid for more than a year.

The incident happened at a Toll IPEC site in Moorebank. Reliance Transport sub-contracts to Toll, which requires owner-drivers on its sites to receive the same rate as Toll employees. The practice is known as site rates, but Georges was paid less than Toll staff.

The TWU’s delegate for the Toll IPEC site, Steve Newton, has told Owner//Driver he is planning on conducting a sweep of the Toll IPEC yard to determine if Georges’ case was an isolated incident.

"I’m going to be doing another whip around in the next couple of weeks and have a talk to some of the drivers and just make sure their money’s the same as the other guys in the yard," Newton told Owner//Driver.

The NSW TWU says Newton uncovered the underpayment when he spoke Georges about his pay and conditions. Reliance Transport believes the underpayment was about $11,000 but still paid the sum the union demanded.

Newton says underpayments to owner-drivers are "pretty widespread" throughout the industry and that many owner-drivers do not speak up for fear of losing work.

He says large companies outsourcing work need to play a direct role in making sure correct rates are being paid, including randomly asking owner-drivers working for a sub-contractor to show their rates.

"Or they need to call the owner of the company and say, ‘We’ve got these owner-drivers here.  I need you to give me proof that you are paying the right money to these guys’," Newton says.

He believes not enough checks are being done to prevent underpayments.

Reliance Transport says it did not intentionally underpay Georges and that it sought to rectify the situation immediately after being notified.

Toll spoke to Reliance Transport owner Grant Mace following the incident and emphasised the need for the company to meet its obligations.

"If he doesn’t, there will probably be ramifications out of it," Newton says.

Toll has not responded to requests for comment.

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