The Fair Work Ombudsman today announced fines of over $41,000 on Openica Logistics after an investigation showed three drivers were underpaid almost $70,000. The inquiry also showed drivers were forced to sleep in their trucks and were not paid a living-away-from-home allowance.
“Here we have three drivers in their 50s having thousands of dollars stolen from their pay checks and forced to sleep away from their families in their trucks. This demonstrates the crisis our industry is in and why we desperately need a national fund to ensure this disgraceful treatment of hard-working transport workers stops. Companies at the top, not just transport operators in the middle, must be held to account,” said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon.
The national auditing, education and industrial rights fund would be paid into by all employers along the transport supply chain. It would ensure companies are meeting safety obligations and that those at the top of supply chains are being held to account for work carried out for them. The fund would also educate employers on their obligations while training drivers on safety and their rights at work.
“This fund is important in holding companies to account over fair rates of pay and safety. At the moment it is the rest of the community which is bearing the brunt of lost wages and lost lives on our roads,” he said.
Pressure on drivers sees them forced to speed, drive for long hours, skip breaks and overload their vehicles. Around 330 people are killed each year nationally in truck-related crashes. This is the reason trucking is Australia’s deadliest profession, with drivers 15 times more like to die than any other profession.
Other cases of underpayment include:
- A Western Australian transport company admitted underpaying a driver by $20,000 so it could compete for contracts.
- A dozen truck drivers in Perth underpaid $93,000 after their employer paid them below the long distance kilometre rate for a year
- A truck driver in northern Queensland underpaid by $52,000 who was not being paid the minimum hourly rate and not paid travel entitlements for several years
- A truck driver in South Australia who was underpaid $19,500