Mr Meredith was told by Hanson that his services as a concrete carrier would not be required beyond September 2013, even though he had purchased a new truck on the understanding that he would have a contract until 2020. He claimed that Hanson had reneged on its promise because of his role as a TWU activist and because he had exercised his workplace rights.
In a battle of David vs Goliath, Justice Collier of the Federal Court of Australia has ordered that Hanson Construction Materials Pty Ltd must provide cartage work to Mr Meredith using his new truck until the hearing of his substantive claim. The claim will be heard some time in 2014.
To obtain the order Mr Meredith was required to satisfy the Court that to a high degree of assurance that he had a solid claim and that the “balance of convenience” supported the making of an order. In her decision Justice Collier said that: “… this is not a “normal” commercial dispute, but a dispute between a large corporation and an owner driver whose livelihood depends on the outcome of the proceedings”.
TWU Branch Secretary Peter Biagini said the judgment handed down was a positive outcome for all Owner Drivers.
‘The TWU are relieved for Mr Meredith that the interlocutory relief was granted,’ Mr Biagini said.
‘For too long these big companies who employ Owner Drivers have taken them for granted and gotten away with too much.’
‘Mr Meredith has stood strong through this adversity and, while it still only the beginning, he is showing other Owner Drivers that with the support of the TWU, they too can have the strength and confidence to stand up for their rights.’
Mr Meredith, on reflection of the outcome, said he was relieved and thankful for the support of the TWU.
‘Last night was a great win for everyone who has ever tried to stand up for their rights at work,’ Mr Meredith said.
‘It is huge relief for me because I have so much invested in my business. I cannot afford not to be working with my new truck.”
Over the past three years the Transport Workers’ Union in Queensland, with the help of delegates like Mr Meredith, has amped up its focus on helping Owner Drivers.
‘Owner Drivers play an important role in our industry and like employees they have workplace rights that must be protected - the right to be a member of a union is one such right,’ Mr Biagini said.
‘Mr Meredith enjoys his work and simply wants the company to give him the benefit of the contract they reneged on because of his union affiliation and activism.’
‘He’s never wanted special treatment – he just wants to be treated fairly by Hanson and to keep on working,’ Mr Biagini said.