Courier fined $30,000 over worker underpayments

A Queensland-based courier company was prosecuted for ripping off 16 of its drivers

A Queensland-based courier company was fined $30,000 after a magistrate found it had not correct rates to 16 of its drivers.

RWH Parcel Delivery, which contracts to Australia Post, has been fined $25,000 and its director, Rees Houtson, $5000.

The federal Workplace Ombudsman took RWH to court following an investigation that found the company had underpaid its mail delivery and courier drivers by more than $27,000 over 12 months between 2006 and 2007.

Magistrate Margaret Cassidy says the company did little to assist the ombudsman in its investigation.

Furthermore, a spokeswoman for the Workplace Ombudsman says the company failed to rectify the issue by its own accord and only started to partially reimburse employees once legal proceedings began.

"That showed the company was not remorseful," the spokeswoman says.

She says it is "highly unlikely" RWH or Houston would have reimbursed employees if the ombudsman did not expose the company’s practices.

Workplace Ombudsman Executive Director Michael Campbell says the investigation found the 16 drivers in the Gladstone area were employed on a casual basis under an unwritten agreement and paid about $10 an hour.

The decision brings to an end almost a year of proceedings, after the Workplace Ombudsman announced it was launching legal action against RWH in September 2007.

The government department originally alleged RWH had knowingly underpaid 18 of its employees.

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