August 7, 2019
The Transport Workers’ Union has criticised the wage theft of four bus and coach drivers who were ripped off over $46,000, saying the case is the tip of the iceberg in transport.
The Federal Circuit Court imposed a total penalty of $90,000 on Sydney-based Eagle Tours transport company.
“Four hard working bus and coach drivers were paid a flat rate for over a year and were ripped off their pay for the overtime, night work, public holiday and weekend work they did. This is a disgrace but is the tip of the iceberg and is all too common in transport. Transport workers from truck drivers to bus drivers, taxi drivers, rideshare drivers and delivery riders are having their rights taken and their wages stolen,” said TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine.
“In an industry which is by far Australia’s deadliest, it is shameful that the Federal Government is ignoring this problem. The financial pressure on transport workers that results from stolen wages forces them to drive longer hours, speed and skip rest breaks. The Federal Government tore down a road safety watchdog examining these pressures and now we are living with the consequences, both in terms of rip-off working conditions and lives lost in the roads,” Kaine added.
Safe Work Australia data for 2019 shows 28 transport workers have been killed out of a total of 83 people killed at work. In the year to March 2019, 186 people were killed in heavy vehicle crashes including trucks and buses, according to the Bureau of Infrastructure Transport and Regional Economics. Since the road safety watchdog was torn down, 609 people have been killed in truck crashes.
Truck drivers, the TWU, transport operators and industry associations are meeting in Canberra today to discuss the crisis in the industry, in a forum organised by Senator Glenn Sterle, shadow minister for road safety.
The bus drivers’ wage theft case follows the termination of an enterprise agreement yesterday involving Aerocare/Swissport, which has been underpaying its 3,000 baggage handlers, airport drivers, caterers and cleaners for seven years.
The TWU is planning widespread industrial action next year as 200 enterprise agreements covering 38,000 transport workers expire. The aim of the industrial action is to ensure better, safer transport jobs and to ensure accountability among powerful, wealthy companies at the top of the transport supply chain.