TWU case against K&S adjourned

The case against K&S Freighters over its policy of charging truck drivers who negligently damage company vehicles has been adjourned

TWU case against K&S adjourned
TWU case against K&S adjourned

By Brad Gardner

The case against K&S Freighters over its policy of charging truck drivers who negligently damage company vehicles has been adjourned.

Federal Court Justice Cowdrey today sent representatives for K&S and the Transport Workers Union into mediation to see if the matter can be resolved.

The matter will not be heard until at least 2:15pm today.

The matter is due to be heard over three days from June 7 to June 9, but may end sooner if the TWU and K&S can broker an agreement.

The TWU launched legal action against the trucking operator last year in an attempt to have the policy of charging drivers abolished, in a move that may set a precedent for all transport operators.

The union is also seeking damages for one driver who was sacked by K&S for refusing to pay to repair a truck.

ATN understands the union is concerned over how the process is governed, particularly how negligence is determined and if the policy is slotted into contracts to ensure employees are aware of it.

TWU Federal Secretary Tony Sheldon has likened K&S’ actions as the same as a bank deducting pay from an employee for breaking a computer or chair. "It is totally unreasonable," he says.

He is concerned K&S’ policy will set a precedent for other industries if it is allowed to stand.

A spokesman for the TWU previously told ATN a company should not be able to take an employee’s pay and that insurance should cover any damage to equipment.

K&S Managing Director Legh Winser has defended the operator's policy by saying it is legally justified.

"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 has previously told ATN.

He says K&S' actions have helped end a culture of carelessness toward company property. Winser says 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," he 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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