Toll blasts TWU's "factually incorrect" claims

Toll refutes TWU claims it is ignoring safety under its delivery contracts with the Australian Defence Force

Toll blasts TWU's "factually incorrect" claims
Toll blasts TWU’s "factually incorrect" claims
By Brad Gardner | August 31, 2010

Toll is refuting claims by the Transport Workers Union it is ignoring the safety and wellbeing of workers under its removalist contract with the Australian Defence Force.

The transport giant has accused the union of being "factually incorrect" for claiming there are no checks and balances on the contract to prevent abuses against workers.

According to the TWU, drivers are being underpaid and injured once the Toll Transitions division of Toll outsources work to sub-contractors because there are no safety and labour arrangement standards.

But a spokesman for Toll says there is an established audit program for removalists and includes training registers and safety checks on driving plans, performance and warehousing operations.

"The audits are conducted twice per year and the performance of each removalist is also reviewed twice per year," the spokesman says.

Removalist companies must undergo a review of their operating procedures before performing work for the ADF and comply with the Fair Work Act.

"To suggest there are no checks in place is simply untrue. Further, each individual employee must receive induction training on Defence requirements," the Toll spokesman says.

According to the TWU, drivers are being offered an extra day’s pay to drive overnight without rest. The union claims removalists are injuring themselves due to a lack of training. In one case, it alleges a driver was forced to work with two broken vertebrae and a ruptured disc as no replacement driver was made available.

"Under current arrangements with the ADF, the entire defence removals contract worth about half-a-billion dollars a year is put out to the lowest bid with no checks on safety, service or labour arrangements," TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon says.

"We are seeing injuries and underpayments across the board yet Toll contracts the work out with no checks."

The dispute between the union and Toll has been simmering for some time, with the Toll spokesman saying the company met the TWU in March this year to discuss its concerns. He says information on Toll’s operations and controls was also handed over.

"We were concerned at the TWU’s lack of understanding of the Toll Transitions operations especially given the gravity of the accusations," the spokesman says.

"We offered to hold further talks to progress any initiatives that could further improve safety. We have had no response to our correspondence."

The TWU claims its survey conducted last financial year revealed an 18-year-old removalist needed a back operation because he was not trained properly.

It says a 28-year-old man with a serious back injury is working for a sub-contractor undertaking Defence removals work, while goods are arriving damaged.

The spokesman for Toll says any loss or damages are covered on a like for like basis as required under the contract. He has called for the TWU to produce evidence of wrongdoing.

"We offered to fully investigate any inappropriate contractor behaviour if the TWU provided us with details. No details have been provided," the spokesman says.

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