TAKE A STAND: The current laws make wage theft too easy and the punishment is too light.
TAKE A STAND: The current laws make wage theft too easy and the punishment is too light. Sarah Harvey

Dodgy bosses must be accountable for actions

ACROSS the transport industry, from the companies all through the supply chain, wage theft is rampant and on the increase. The TWU has the evidence that shows many transport workers are being underpaid every day.

Companies are on notice from the TWU, if they make a decision that leads to transport workers not being paid the correct wage, then they have engaged in wage theft.

We are currently dealing with a Metromix in the Federal Circuit Court, a company that has happily taken the taxpayer dollar working on NSW government projects, whilst engaging in wage theft. They failed to properly pay meal allowances to a TWU member since 2013.

Judge Street, a Federal Circuit Court Judge made orders against Metromix declaring they had breached their enterprise agreement and the Fair Work Act.

Metromix were ordered by Judge Street to pay our member back their unpaid wages. We will return to the court in September seeking that the Judge orders penalties against the company for their act of wage theft.

TWU investigation work into companies working on the NSW Government's WestConnex project have shown evidence of late payments, wage theft (underpayments), fatigue breaches, overloaded (overweight) trucks and drivers double shifting (where a driver works two driving shifts consecutively across two trucks).

Over the years the TWU has obtained many court judgments rectifying wage theft for our members. We know that the system is broken. There is no serious disincentive in place for employers who engage in wage theft and often recovering the correct amounts owed is extremely difficult.

For many operators in the transport industry, wage theft has become the new business model. For the TWU and our members this is unacceptable. We know the problem will become more widespread if dodgy bosses are not held accountable for their actions.

Companies that engage in wage theft often plead ignorance when they are caught out by the TWU despite the industry knowledge they clearly possess from running a large fleet and working for major government projects.

Wage theft is stealing from transport workers, their families and taxpayers.

The current laws make wage theft too easy and the punishment is too light. This means that clients, like the NSW Government, are able to turn a blind eye to what is going on in their own supply chain.

If a company is cutting corners by stealing money from workers, then you can be sure that they are cutting corners on other issues like the maintenance of trucks or safety. Safety is a shared responsibility of all in the supply chain including the client who place the most pressure on transport workers with their control of the industry.

Clients that utilise their position to drive down costs and ensure there is a race to the bottom are making profits from wage theft in their supply chain.

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