Fair Work dismisses Atkins Freight case

A truck driver employed by his brother's company fails in his bid to secure a higher wage

Fair Work dismisses Atkins Freight case
Fair Work dismisses Atkins Freight Service case
By Brad Gardner | August 5, 2010

A truck driver employed by his brother’s company has had his bid to secure a higher wage thrown out by Fair Work Australia.

Darryl Atkins took Atkins Freight Service to Fair Work Australia claiming the award modernisation process would lead to decline in pay rates by more than $11,000 a year.

The process, introduced on July 1 this year, reduced more than 120 separate transport awards into three as part of efforts to simplify the system.

The Road Transport and Distribution Award covers most of the trucking industry, with long haul operators bound by the Road Transport (Long Distance Operations) Award. The cash in transit sector has a separate award.

Atkins, who was employed in 2005 by his brother and Atkins Managing Director Ian Atkins, sought a variation to the Long Distance Award.

But Fair Work Senior Deputy President Anne Harrison ruled that the matter did not warrant a variation.

"His complaint continued to be about matters which would not suggest an application to vary the Award would be justified," Harrison says.

Furthermore Atkins did not lodge an application within the set timeframe, prompting Harrison to dismiss the matter.

Harrison had to repeatedly adjourn proceedings before making a final ruling this week because Atkins did not satisfy requirements when submitting his case for a variation.

In his original submission to the court in April this year, Atkins claimed he would receive $11,685.01 less under the Award.

He claimed he was previously employed under the Transport Workers (Oil Distribution) Award.

But in a letter to Fair Work Australia, Ian Atkins disputed his brother’s claim.

"His terms and conditions of employment, which he accepted nearly 5 years ago, have always been as contained in the Transport Workers (Long Distance Drivers) Award 2000," the letter reads.

According to the company, it has never been a party to the Oil Distribution Award.

"We do not understand how Darryl can claim that his working conditions and pay have been altered and eroded…We can only assume that he has received and accepted bad advice on this matter," Ian Atkins’ letter reads.

Paul Ryan from the Australian Road Transport Industrial Organisation (ARTIO) questioned if varying the Award was the appropriate way to resolve the issue.

During proceedings, Ryan told Fair Work Australia there was no reason Atkins and other employees could not seek an agreement with the company to address their concerns.

Employees who were not working under an agreement were required to move to the new awards system on July 1.

The awards were due to take effect from January this year but were delayed for six months to give businesses more time to adapt.

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