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Aceit Couriers in TWU sights over pay rates

TWU threatens traffic disruptions unless South Australian courier company Aceit Couriers increases pay rates

By Brad Gardner | August 11, 2011

South Australia is shaping up as a potential flashpoint in the campaign for safe rates, with union threats of traffic disruptions unless an Adelaide-based courier company increases wages.

The Transport Workers Union has warned it could disrupt traffic over the coming months in Adelaide to secure rate increases for couriers and owner-drivers working for Aceit Couriers.

In claims that have been dismissed as “a load of rubbish” by Aceit’s legal representative, the TWU argues sub-contractor Bob Geary is being “starved out” for trying to organise a better deal for drivers.

TWU South Australian Secretary Ray Wyatt claims drivers are being forced to push themselves to break even because Aceit will not negotiate on rates.

“Drivers are being forced to work for $15 to $19 an hour with fuel taking up a good 15 percent of that – and that has risen in recent years,” Wyatt says.

“Bob has been working for this company for the best part of a decade and he, and all couriers, deserve better treatment from their bosses. Safe rates legislation is the way to get that to happen.”

Geary says petrol prices have risen considerably in recent years but income has dropped at the same time.

“For a trip from Adelaide to Victor Harbour, you used to get about $100 for the return trip. That has dropped to $60,” he says.

D’Angelo Kavanagh Partner Terence Kavanagh says Geary’s services with Aceit have been terminated but it has nothing to do with pay rates. He declined to detail what the matter involved.

He says he is not aware of any complaints among drivers within the company, adding that the TWU’s claims are incorrect.

“This is just something they’ve trumped up,” Kavanagh says.

The TWU has long been calling for a radical overhaul to pay rates in the transport industry. National Secretary Tony Sheldon has even taken to publicly haranguing Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s government for so far failing to implement changes.

He last month likened Workplace Relations Minister Chris Evans to the corpse in the film, Weekend at Bernie’s, claiming Evans was doing nothing despite numerous studies showing a link between poor safety and low rates of pay.

Sheldon wants a tribunal system set up that is capable of ruling on pay rates for different transport sectors.

The Federal Government last year released a discussion paper on possible reform options, including expanding the powers of Fair Work Australia and establishing a tribunal.

The deadline for feedback on the discussion paper closed earlier this year and the government is yet to announce if or when it plans to implement any of its proposals. The government has previously committed to reforming pay rates.

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