K&S case may be delayed for a year


Case to determine if drivers can be charged for negligently damaging company equipment may be delayed for a year

By Brad Gardner | February 11, 2010

The much-anticipated court case to determine if drivers can be charged for negligently damaging company equipment may be delayed for as long as a year.

The stoush between the Transport Workers Union (TWU) and K&S Freighters was expected to be heard in February, but a spokesman for the TWU says both parties are yet to exchange evidence.

He says a hearing date will be set once that happens.

"Going on average timelines, I am advised that the case may not be heard for another nine to 12 months," the spokesman says, referring to the process of the Federal Court, which will hear the matter.

TWU Federal Secretary Tony Sheldon announced in a press conference last year the union wanted an end to K&S’ policy of deducting money from a driver’s wage for damaged vehicles.

"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," Sheldon said at the time.

But K&S Managing Director Legh Winser says the operator is doing nothing wrong.

"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 says.

Refusing to abolish the policy, Winser says it has helped end a culture of carelessness to company property and that damaged equipment causes extensive downtime and lost productivity.

"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.

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".


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