Get your facts straight, K&S tells TWU

Defiant K&S vows to continue policy of making drivers pay for negligently damaging vehicles, saying it is not illegal

Get your facts straight, K&S tells TWU
Get your facts straight, K&S tells TWU
By Brad Gardner | December 16, 2009

K&S has stared down the Transport Workers Union (TWU) by refusing to abolish its policy of making drivers pay for negligently damaging company trucks.

Managing Director Legh Winser says the operator is doing nothing wrong and is trying to end a culture of carelessness to company property. He says damaged equipment causes extensive downtime and results in lost productivity.

The TWU claims trucking companies should not be able to deduct driver wages and has launched legal action against K&S to put a stop to the practice.

"To get the facts correct - it is legal to have employees pay for negligent damage. It is not legal to have them pay for third party damage," Winser tells ATN.

"Cleary a driver cannot pay for a large accident as they would not have the financial capability to do so but for a very clearly defined and unquestionable negligent accident we are requesting the driver to pay."

Winser says the company’s approach has slashed its incident and accident rate by 60 percent, a figure he adds that the TWU "found extremely difficult to dispute".

Furthermore, he says the company is not attempting to downgrade its insurance policy.

"We do carry a large amount initially at our own risk and have done so for a number of year," Winser says.

With K&S told to file its defence against the TWU’s claims by December 24, Winser says the company will continue to take a strong approach to upholding occupational health and safety obligations.

"We take all of these matters seriously and will not accept people who do not comply," he says.

Negotiations between the TWU and K&S broke down earlier this year, prompting the union to take the matter to court.

Holding a press conference last month in Sydney, TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon told the media K&S’ policy must not continue or it will set a precedent for other industries.

"This is the same as a bank blaming their employees if a computer or a chair breaks and then deducting their pay to pay for it. It is totally unreasonable," he says.

The matter is due to be heard in the Federal Court in February next year, with the ruling likely to have a significant impact on other operators.

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