TWU appeal leaves WA Freight Group EBA in limbo

TWU appeals decision approving WA Freight Group’s new workplace agreement, prompting the full bench of Fair Wok Australia to intervene

By Brad Gardner | May 10, 2011

WA Freight Group’s new enterprise agreement has been left in limbo after the Transport Workers Union successfully appealed Fair Work Australia’s decision to approve it last year.

The full bench of the industrial relations umpire has granted the TWU until May 16 to submit why the WA Freight Group Line Haul Division Enterprise Agreement should not be approved.

Commissioner Bruce Williams passed the agreement last December, but the TWU is concerned about the hourly rates of pay and pay for drivers working two-up. It told Fair Work Australia that Williams should not have approved the agreement because it had not been accepted by all employees.

WA Freight Group has been given until May 30 to respond to the claims in the union’s submission, which Fair Work Australia was told had not been completed.

"We shall determine the appeal on the basis of the written submissions," Fair Work Australia President Justice Geoffrey Giudice, Senior Deputy President Anne Harrison and Commissioner Danny Cloghan wrote in their judgment.

The agreement covers drivers employed by WA Freight Group-owned businesses Jolley’s Transport Services and WA Freightlines.

The full bench says a ballot of employees was held on November 10 to approve the agreement.

"On 19 November 2010 there was a discussion between a representative of WA Freight Group and a TWU official. This apparently led the TWU official to believe that too many ballot papers had been distributed for the ballot on 10 November and that the vote may therefore have been invalid," the judgement reads.

Williams received notice from employees objecting to the agreement. However, he ruled that they were matters unrelated to what he needed to consider before approving it.

The agreement is due to run for three years. If passed, it will increase the kilometre rate for drivers each financial year by 3 percent or CPI, whichever is higher.

WA Freight Group will also pay drivers 2.5 hours on the base hourly rate of $23.52 for loading and unloading, except for drivers in Brisbane.

The two-up kilometre rate for interstate drivers ranges from 19 cents up to 21 cents, while the intrastate figure begins at 18 cents and goes up to 20 cents.

According to the agreement, the single interstate kilometre rate begins at 36 cents and goes up to 38 cents depending on how many years the driver has been with the company.

WA Freight Group runs services to and from mainland capital cities. It was part of a group of five businesses taken over by private equity firm Silk Logistics in 2008. The group includes well-known transport operators Bunker Freightlines, Kagan Logistics, Doolan's Heavy Haulage and Hoffmann Transport.

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