Truckies are fighting for a fairer deal when it comes to long distance jobs.
Truckies are fighting for a fairer deal when it comes to long distance jobs.

Drivers make formal submissions to FWC

A GROUP of concerned long-distance truckies are taking the fight to have their pay better reflect the job that they do to the Fair Work Commission.

Led by The Drivers' Advocate founder Trevor Warner, the drivers are lobbying for changes to the Road Transport (Long Distance Operations) Award 2010 to address what they see as shortcomings in the loading and unloading, and travel allowance clauses.

In their submissions to the FWC, they are seeking to vary Clause 3 in the award's definition of loading and unloading to omit 'tarping, installing and removing gates and operation of on-board cranes'.

In its place, they are asking the FWC to insert the below:

All non-driving activities including but not limited to:

[i] Complying with entrance and departure procedures at load or unload location;

[ii] Apply or release all load restraint devices, including gates and tarps;

[iii] Operation of trailer curtains;

[iv] Operation of forklifts, pallet jacks, winches and mobile cranes;

[v] Be on call or to assist a third party to load or unload freight;

[vi] Waiting time or queuing time;

[vii] Processing of freight documentation;

[viii] Checking vehicle weights on weighbridge.

"I don't get paid for checking into the gatehouse, waiting to get on to the dock, all the time on the dock, waiting for paperwork and exiting the premises," Trevor said.

"The award doesn't support me being paid because I don't physically use the forklift, or I'm not physically placing the freight on the truck, or removing it. I can be assisting the forklift driver and still not be getting paid."

Submission supporter, Queensland truckie Robert Bell, shared a common DC scenario as his argument for change.

"If I just drove into a DC with a load of groceries and walked away to a pub for a long counter lunch, I'd sure as hell bet that truck would still be sitting there the exact same way when I got back," Robert said.

"It relies totally on your physical engagement through the whole process to be unloaded and backed on to the dock, all those types of things. So why shouldn't we get paid for it?

"The kilometre rate contains no allowance whatsoever for loading and unloading."

The drivers are also seeking to have the award omit the clause around travel allowances which states: "This will not be payable where an employee is provided with suitable accommodation away from the vehicle."

Robert said the award was long outdated and did not reflect modern life and costings.

"If the award was fixed up to reflect what we actually do then everyone would compete on a level playing field and base their quotes on actual service."

The TWU said it had been fighting the issue of unpaid work for years.

"It is logical that some would jump to the conclusion that changing the award would fix this but there are flaws to this route," national secretary Michael Kaine said.

"Owner-drivers won't be covered by it and clients won't be forced to pay any more money, making it potentially unworkable for transport operators. There has to be an approach that captures the entire market and makes clients pay.

"What we need is a system that can change things for the better - but top down, where clients are forced to pay rates that cover the entire costs of moving their goods around.

"This would include paying rates for all work that employee and owner-drivers carry out and full costs for transport operators."

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