Jan 17, 2018


The Transport Workers’ Union has called on transport operators to stop ripping off their drivers after SA-based Atkins Freight Services was forced to pay $468,000 in a wage theft case involving 10 drivers.

The Federal Court imposed the backpay and fines on the company after it refused to pay their minimum wage entitlements.

“This case shows the pressure drivers are under. They are being forced to speed and drive grueling hours to meet unrealistic deadlines and all the while they are being ripped off their wages. There is a crisis in transport that is being caused right at the top of the supply chain – by the wealthy retailers and manufacturers financially squeezing operators and drivers. Transport operators need to come on board and seek a solution to this crisis,” said TWU SA/NT Branch Secretary Ian Smith.

The wage theft case follows a number of horrific fatal truck crashes across the country in recent days. Nationally death from articulated trucks have jumped 9.4% in the 12 months to September. New Safe Work Australia data for 2017 showed almost 40% of all workplace deaths involved a transport worker. Despite overall workplace deaths decreasing last year, the number of transport workers killed on the job jumped to 66, up from 57 in 2016.

“The Federal Government tore down a road safety watchdog which was investigating the crisis in trucking. Some employer groups supported this move. They are equally supporting companies such as Atkins Freight which rip off drivers. This has got to stop – a meaningful solution to the crisis in transport must be delivered with urgency,” Smith added.

Numerous academic studies and coronial inquiries have established the lethal dynamic between pay and safety on the roads and the need for a safe rates system. A report by the National Transport Commission states: “There is solid survey evidence linking payment levels and systems to crashes, speeding, driving while fatigued and drug use”.

In October, a cross-party Senate committee approved a report recommending that the Government facilitate industry talks to “establish an independent industry body which has the power to formulate, implement and enforce supply chain standards and accountability as well as sustainable, safe rates for the transport industry”.

© 2016 Transport Workers' Union of Australia.
Authorised by Tony Sheldon, TWU National Secretary, 388-390 Sussex St, Sydney, NSW 2000 Australia.