WHEN the TWU's Tip Truck members working for RailCorp complained bitterly about the unfairness of RailCorp's allocation system, the TWU took RailCorp to the NSW Industrial Relations Commission to try and rectify the problem.
Drivers made the decision to have their concerns heard in front of the NSWIRC after they noticed that many of the same contractors were being given work by RailCorp, leaving some drivers without work for years.
RailCorp had claimed that contracts were allocated by computer systems and that they therefore had no control over the system of allocation.
Our members believed that RailCorp's response was nonsense and that the system of choosing contractors at RailCorp was flawed as it could cause fatigue management issues, with some drivers working over their weekly limit of hours while others were allocated no work whatsoever.
Further, RailCorp provided no transparency or stated reason as to why some contractors received more work than others.
Another issue was that drivers were required to comply with the complex and time-consuming tender requirements set out by RailCorp, but were then left to wait months or even years before they could obtain a contract, while others immediately moved from job to job.
With more than 100 drivers being pushed aside, the TWU believed that this needed to stop and decided to approach the NSWIRC for assistance.
On Thursday, January 31, Commissioner Inaam Tabbaa recommended that the TWU and RailCorp conduct a joint audit of the contract allocation and work, health and safety systems of RailCorp to address the issue of perceived unfairness and because over-allocation of work to some contractors might cause poor fatigue management.
The matter will again go before the NSWIRC following this audit and we are hopeful that as a result the allocation of contracts in the future will be more fair and transparent.
This case illustrates the importance of having an independent umpire such as the NSWIRC, which can efficiently resolve disputes, and I am pleased to report that, following a year-long inquiry into all tribunals in NSW, which began in late 2011, the NSW Government has committed to retaining the vital institution that is the NSWIRC.