Arkwood Case Prompts TWU Warning On Underpayments

Release date: 1/07/2012

The Transport Workers Union is eyeing off a significant wage claim against a waste transporter after it was revealed the company paid its truck drivers under the wrong employment Award.

ATN - Australasian Transport News

Fair Work Australia (EWA) Commissioner Ingrid Asbury has ruled Arkwood Organic Recycling should have paid its Queensland drivers according to rates outlined in the Waste Management Award instead of the Road Transport and Distribution Award, which the company was using.

The Waste Management Award entitles drivers to an industry allowance of 11 percent of their standard rate to account for the "unusually offensive and obnoxious" material they must deal with.

The TWU is now investigating whether underpayments occurred, but in a statement the union is already claiming Arkwood has exposed itself "to a wage claim that could hit hundreds of thousands of dollars".

"It is vital that every Australian worker does an annual check of their pay, entitlements and conditions," TWU Queensland Assistant Secretary Scott Connolly says.

"Employers must also act ... Its in everyone’s interest to make sure inadvertent breaches are minimised. To those employers who engage in malfeasance, we say you will be discovered and your crimes will be remedied." Arkwood, which also operates in New South Wales, employs 36 drivers in Queensland and transports biosolids. It told FWA it did not believe the state’s Environmental Protection Act classified biosolids as a waste. Asbury rejected the claim.

"That submission is at odds with the legislative and regulatory framework," she says.

"Biosolids are clearly waste’ as defined in the Environmental Protection Act 1994. If this was not the case, the entire legislative regime with which Arkwood is apparently complying would have no application." Asbury says biosolids "have an unpleasant odour and it could be said to be offensive and obnoxious".

The commissioner inspected Arkwood’s operations during proceedings and observed biosolids being unloaded from trucks and spread onto land.

Arkwood also transports heavy machinery and materials such as gravel, woodchip, bark and grain.

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