The case, which will be heard in early September, could see Toll pay penalties of up to $10,000 for each of the 5,187 late payments it made to almost 250 owner drivers.
Delayed payments cause owner drivers to struggle with the costs of running their trucks. Evidence shows an inexplicable link between pay and safety.
State Secretary Richard Olsen told TWU News, “Over the last year, Toll’s treatment of hardworking truck drivers has been an utter disgrace. While transport workers pulled in record profits for retailers whose goods they transport, they’ve faced a threat to their own income. First, workers were forced to bear the brunt of two cyber-attacks, then owner drivers endured months of late payments during the high intensity Christmas period. At the same time, Toll was cooking up a plan to obliterate the decent jobs of its employees.”
Owner-drivers run small businesses – usually just one person with one truck. They operate on wafer-thin margins, yet in good faith they agreed to extend their payment terms with Toll for six months. Once that time was up, Toll spat in their face and refused to go back to paying them weekly as per their contracted terms.
“This appalling treatment of workers while those at the top of transport supply chains reap multibillion dollar profits, highlights the urgency for the Federal Government to step up and regulate Australia’s deadliest industry,” Richard Olsen said.
Owner Driver Paul Newton tells his story
Paul Newton, Owner Driver, told TWU News talked to TWU News about the blatant disregard by Toll for an agreement signed off on by Michael Rugendyke and owner drivers at Toll in April.
Members agreed with Toll that when cyber-attacks occurred, they would let the company withhold one week’s worth of their money to assist Toll in maintaining financial liquidity, to keep trading. The cyber-attacks meant Toll had no capacity to invoice.
What we were not aware of was that Toll’s integrity was missing; anything that was promised on the negotiation table by Michael Rugendyke never eventuated. Members were not aware of planned closures at regional depots, members were not aware of planned outsourcing of work. Michael Rugendyke gave us his word there would be no closures, no short shifts and no outsourcing of work. Where is the integrity? We believe we were lied to.
In September members told Toll that they no longer agreed about the money being withheld, this meant the money was to be returned and payment agreements were supposed now to revert to seven-day terms. Toll refused to send the money back. That is wage theft. Michael Rugendyke has a total contempt and complete disrespect for his workforce.