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Commission clears way for Toll to record truck drivers in Victoria

Toll will begin installing driver-facing cameras in its Victorian fleet.

 

Truck drivers working for Toll in Victoria will soon have video cameras recording their movements after the company scuttled a union campaign against the devices.

Toll has been trying to install driver-facing cameras in its Victorian fleet but the State’s Transport Workers Union (TWU) has opposed the move and labelled it an invasion of privacy.

Both parties this week took their dispute to the Fair Work Commission (FWC), which ruled in Toll’s favour.

Commissioner David Gregory dismissed the union’s claims that the workplace agreement in place for Toll employees did not permit the company to monitor drivers and that the cameras would be in breach of Victoria’s Surveillance Devices Act.

“In summary, I am not satisfied that there is anything in place in terms of a legal or contractual barrier that prevents Toll from doing what it now proposes,” Gregory says.

However, Gregory adds that Toll needs to first explain to drivers how the cameras will be used before moving ahead with its plans.

The units, dubbed DriveCam, record vision and audio of what is happening inside and outside the truck.

Toll intends to record drivers working in the company’s Victorian linehaul and bulk liquid cartage operations.

It has been using two-way cameras since 2011 in other parts of Australia but has limited their use to recording events outside the truck in Victoria due to the TWU’s stance.

The system begins automatically recording when it detects G-force events such as harsh braking or swerving, while drivers can also press a button to record other incidents.

Toll’s NQX division in Queensland was the first to begin using the cameras, which are now installed in more than 130 of its trucks.

Toll linehaul manager John King says the cameras have led to a “vast improvement” in tailgating incidents, drivers wearing seatbelts, complying with mobile phone regulations and not smoking in trucks.

Gregory agreed with Toll that recording drivers can identify inappropriate behaviour and aid driver coaching and training.

“I am also satisfied that the evidence indicates the system can contribute to better safety outcomes in the road transport industry and should be considered by the parties in this context,” he says.

King told the commission the effectiveness of the cameras would be “fundamentally undermined if the driver-facing cameras were not installed”.

 

DRIVER-FACING CAMERAS AN ‘INSULT’: TWU

While saying it supports fitting outward-facing cameras to trucks, the TWU told the commission it did not believe recording truck drivers was necessary.

During proceedings, it labelled the devices an unacceptable intrusion into a driver’s privacy and that the ability to manually record events meant a driver could lose control of the truck.

TWU organiser Andrew Bishop told the FWC the cameras would be used “as a tool to blame the driver”, while veteran driver Grant Hoskings also criticised their use.

“It’s an insult to my professionalism that somebody has all of a sudden decided that they need to be watching what I’m doing,” he says. 

Hosking, who works in Toll’s linehaul division, echoed Bishop’s comments by telling the commission the cameras would be used as “a punishment tool”.

The union also raised concerns about footage becoming public but did not put forward any evidence to back up their claims.

“I do not take issue with the fact the TWU and its members in Victoria have these concerns,” Gregory says.

“However, there was little evidence provided in the proceedings to substantiate these concerns, despite the fact the DriveCam system has been in place in other states for at least two years, and in some cases longer.

“Given the situation it could be expected evidence from the operation of the system elsewhere would have been provided to the commission to support the concerns being raised.”

The ruling comes ahead of Toll’s plan to sell the benefits of the devices to other industry players next month.

Toll NQX general manager Greg Smith will host a webinar outlining Toll’s decision to use the cameras and the effect they have had on the company.

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