The Interstater: Trucking’s free loading

Two drivers working for the one company, yet only one is being paid for all hours worked. It’s the long-standing anomaly that plagues the trucking industry. The Interstater writes

The Interstater: Trucking’s free loading
Getting paid for every minute you work?


If ever you’ve wanted to have an interesting debate on an issue that keeps both you and your combatant entertained for a few hours, make the subject ‘being paid’. The varying beliefs between what is being paid and what should be paid is engrossing, to say the least.

Let’s start with ‘should you be paid by the hour or by the kilometre?

The only way to be paid the penalty rates that almost every other industry enjoys for working long hours well outside the normal parameters of the usual 40 hour working week, and attain a time-and-a-half bonus after the first eight hours and a double time bonus after the first 10 hours is to insist on being ‘paid hourly’.

The simple fact that all hours driven and worked must be written into the work diary would mean that by doing so we would finally get paid what we are legally entitled to.

So, no more being ripped off while loading and unloading, not being paid while fuelling up the prime mover, fridge vans, generators or any other part that likes to be topped up with fluids and our valuable, bookable, time.

Why should we not get paid to wash the boss’s truck? I’m sure he wouldn’t wash our cars for free each week. We have to stand up and support each other in the quest to start being paid by the hour.

More work, less pay

How often do we find ourselves backed onto a dock, waiting to be loaded, waiting for one last pallet, waiting for paperwork that seems to be coming via AustPost? All the while we’re standing alongside a local driver from the very same company we work for who is being paid for every minute he works up until knock off time. Yet we are not?

Unpaid hours must be the number one issue fought for in the coming months. It is the biggest singular reason we are finding ourselves so fatigued, so exhausted, and so disenchanted with most everything in our lives. We are usually doing at least 30 percent more work than we are being paid to do, and the toll it’s taking on our lives long term must be addressed now.

As an aging workforce, we will live to regret it sooner than we think because an underfunded retirement is looming. You would have noticed it lately. It not only seems to be discussed more, but I bet you have found yourself more interested in the subject of retirement like never before.

Not being paid 9.5 percent Super on your base rate, which is your current kilometre rate, is something that you need to rally against, sooner rather than later. Do you even know that the Australian Tax Office (ATO) made a ruling that you are to be paid Super on every kilometre driven a few years ago? The employer associations had it quickly knocked on the head, the same Associations that your employer is a paid-up member of, even using your money to pay for it.

So the ATO changed its ruling to agree with the employer associations and made it only payable, on what they consider to be your ‘normal working hours’ of less than a 38 hour week. So how many interstate drivers do you know that only work/drive 38 hours per week?

Banana driver peeled

Most of you have heard that a potential industry changing legal case has been dropped against a north Queensland trucking company. So the truth doesn’t stand a chance of being exposed once again.

I recently spoke to a driver that was working for a well-known banana carter from up that way and they are of the belief that because they pay 44 cents per kilometre, it excludes them from having to pay their drivers to load and unload. This is despite on a recent trip south it took the driver six hours to complete the five deliveries unpaid. That only left him with exactly six hours to eat, shower and have a seven-hour break so as to be seen as legal to drive as soon as the trailers were loaded for the return leg, while being compliant with the company’s ‘smoke and mirrors’ 3am off-the-road curfew.

Not only does this ‘holier than thou’ company think that they don’t have to pay their drivers to load and unload, but they also believe that once they have added up all the kilometres driven for the week, they then deduct the ‘living away from home allowance’ (LAHA), tax the balance, then re-add the LAHA, and there you have your net weekly income.

As we surely must all by now know, that not only is this way of paying wages illegally, but it is morally bankrupt because it reduces the kilometre rate that is either as per the award, or it is less than what is in the EBA. Either way, it is the driver who ends up paying his own LAHA.

Don’t think that you have to be driving for this mob to be in this rip-off situation because there is a better than even bet that you too are being ripped off in exactly the same way – and have never been made aware of it before. Remember, the lie that it is done this way so as to reduce your tax is as absurd as it is false.

Driverless trucks

I would expect that I am not the only one that is sick and tired of hearing all the flotsam and jetsam about driverless trucks. Now I’m all for technology, and I’m all for making the job safer and easier, but it’s a waste of money that would obviously be better spent elsewhere such as trying to reduce the deaths of so many truck drivers each year.

Firstly, why delete the need for a driver to be sitting behind the steering wheel when there will always be the need for a truck driver to do all of the associated work around getting the freight delivered on time, and in good condition.

Secondly, do any of these time wasters understand that there will never be a foolproof internet connection, good enough Australia wide to ensure connectivity, under all-weather situations.

Do any of these people think Australia is small enough and rich enough to justify the fitment of so many strategically positioned sensors all over the place, to make such an illusion a reality? To garner support for such a doomed to failure system that will never see the light of day on the grand scale that is Australia, all while bringing such unnecessary concern to long term career truck drivers is just another sickening distraction from the real concerns the industry should really be focused on right now.

What pay rise?

I hope by now, that you have all been made aware that as of July 1you were all given a 3.3 percent pay rise. What? You didn’t know? Well you didn’t, go and speak to your employer and /or the paymaster and make sure you are getting it.

That means regardless of what you were on previously, it must be a 3.3 percent rise, regardless of what your EBA says, or whether you are on an above award agreement. If by being paid an extra 3.3 per cent doesn’t raise your rate above the award amount by 3.3 percent, then it must.

If in doubt, and this isn’t as clear to you as you would like it to read, e-mail me and I can explain it more to your personal situation.

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