Toll and TWU did not engage in anti-competitive conduct: ACCC

Photography by: Brad Gardner


ACCC finds no evidence to support claim Toll and TWU breached competition law.

Toll and TWU did not engage in anti-competitive conduct: ACCC
Vindicated: TWU boss Tony Sheldon says the Royal Commission needs to stop its "attacks" on the union.

 

Toll and the Transport Workers Union (TWU) have been cleared of engaging in anti-competitive conduct over a workplace deal they struck.

More than a year after accusations of wrongdoing were made against the union and the transport firm, the the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says there was no contravention of the Competition and Consumer Act (CCA).

The accusations came after the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance received evidence about two separate confidential deeds entered into by Toll and the TWU, in the context of negotiations for an enterprise agreement.

In them, Toll agreed to make annual payments to the Transport Education Audit Compliance Health Organisation (Teacho), subject to the TWU meeting certain key performance indicators (KPIs).

The KPIs related to the TWU conducting audits, wage inspections or other compliance measures of one or more competitors of Toll, and Teacho providing training for Toll’s employees and contractors with respect to general compliance measures.

This included log book compliance and occupational health and safety issues.

"The ACCC closely investigated whether the alleged conduct contravened the CCA, including whether the relevant provisions had the purpose, or had or were likely to have the effect, of substantially lessening competition," ACCC chairman Rod Sims says.

"After considering all of the information available to it, the ACCC concluded that the provisions in the two deeds did not have the purpose and were not likely to have the effect of substantially lessening competition, and did not otherwise contravene the CCA."

The ACCC says its conclusion is based on a number of factors identified during the course of its investigation, including that the trucking is fragemented so it is not likely that the provisions could have had the effect of substantially lessening competition.

The regulator says none of the relevant provisions was given effect to, and hence there was no competitive harm from the conduct and there was no evidence that the purpose of the relevant provisions was to substantially lessen competition.

In response, Toll says it has always been confident it did not breach competition law.

"The arrangements we entered into with the TWU were driven by our objective of continuing to improve our safety and health standards through additional training for our people, as well as a desire to raise safety and compliance standards across the industry more generally," Toll Group spokesman Christopher Whitefield says.

"As an industry leader we will continue to take actions that promote improved safety outcomes for industry participants and the communities in which we operate."

Describing the findings as a "vindication", TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon describes the Royal Commission as politically-motivated and calls on it to "stop its attacks on our members".

"The Transport Education Audit Compliance Health Organisation fund was set up to assist transport workers and employers improve career pathways, training, industrial rights, research, health and safety in our industry," Sheldon says.

"How training and safety could ever be a point of attack by the Royal Commission beggars belief."

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